Flip through our collection of photos of Broncos playing at the Pro Bowl.
PHOENIX —For anyone who talked to one of the eight Broncos at the Pro Bowl this week, you probably heard them say that they wished they were coming to town a week later for the Super Bowl.
The disappointing loss has settled after two weeks and though that disappointment hasn't gone away for the players, as they assembled in Phoenix for Pro Bowl festivities, they understood that for many of them, this season held certain successes.
"I would say that that was probably one of the best seasons I've ever had, from a standpoint of my teammates, the organization and especially the fans," DeMarcus Ware said. "They have such great fans and for the Broncos. And it's a true thing when you see the 12th man when you come through the tunnel and you see and feel that heartbeat of the crowd, that loudness. It was a short-lived season because we didn't make it to where we wanted to, but we just have to look at it and say 'Let's pick our bags up, unpack them next season and make sure we don't have to pick up early.'"
The team set a new franchise record with 11 Pro Bowlers, with eight of them active for Sunday's game, and their four largest offseason signings, including Ware, were a significant part of that group.
"They made some good picks," T.J. Ward said of who the Broncos chose to sign in free agency. "But I think that's just, I think we were all Pro Bowl players before we got here and we've just got to continue that. I think we proved what we could do and why we were brought here and just to make this team better and help this team get better."
Ward was also part of another elite group of Broncos, with three members of their starting secondary selected to the Pro Bowl.
"Chris [Harris Jr.] balled, [Aqib Talib] came in and balled, and I played all right," Ward said. "But it's just been a blessing being here with them two dudes and being on a team with Chris and getting this victory today. When you come out healthy and you have a productive season, you can't complain about nothing."
The group of them, along with safety Rahim Moore made up what they dubbed 'The No Fly Zone,' boasting one of the top passing defenses in terms of passing yards per play allowed.
"It's great, especially with the guys you work with every day. Us to come out here, me, T.J. and Talib, that's huge," Chris Harris Jr. said. "Nobody else out here has three guys, really, in their secondary—starters—so that just showed the level of our play this season."
Emmanuel Sanders even brought up the secondary's achievement unannounced, saying, "Two cornerbacks making it from the same team and coming out — it's a blessing for me to go against those guys every single day in practice; they're one of the reasons I'm here today."
Sanders and Harris were two of three Broncos making the Pro Bowl for the first time, along with C.J. Anderson. The running back was proud of their exceptional group of first-timers, and said they're just all raising their level with the rest of the Broncos' Pro Bowlers.
"I just think it's pretty amazing that we're trying to play at a high level because [Harris has], Talib and T.J. on that side, and Von; and I've got Peyton and Demaryius and Emmanuel and we're just trying to compete and just trying to be at the level they're at, and I think that's paying off for both of us," Anderson said.
And then the last group of Broncos were pass rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, and left tackle Ryan Clady. The three played against each other on individual matchups at times on Sunday, giving fans a glimpse of some of the duels we can't see at practices.
In all, it was an impressive week and showing on Sunday. You could watch a Bronco on nearly every play of the Pro Bowl, which is something few other teams, if any, can say.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I made sure I took advantage of it," Miller said, before sharing his perspective on entering the offseason, which was a viewpoint all the other players shared. "I feel good about the way I played today and the way I played this season. So I'm looking forward to this offseason, training hard and just coming back next year ready to go."
The Broncos' eight Pro Bowlers practiced in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Jan. 24 in advance of the 2015 Pro Bowl.