ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – As tough to swallow as Sunday's loss to the New England Patriots was, the Broncos have to move on. They have no choice.
"We've got to have a 24-hour rule," Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said. "Sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more, but basically you've got about 24 hours to either feel good about something and then put it to rest, or feel bad about something and put it to rest. But our attention has to turn to the next opponent. That is what we are doing."
Del Rio said the team has gone through the film of Sunday's game in Foxborough, Mass., and is now "full-speed ahead" in preparing for a rematch with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The interim head coach said the team had "a ton of positives" against the Patriots, but turnovers continued to be the club's "Kryptonite," allowing the Patriots to come away with the win.
But the Broncos still control their own fate within the AFC West in their quest for a third consecutive division title.
"We're sitting here, we're tied for first," Del Rio said. "We're 9-2; we've won a lot of games. We've got some ball in front of us and we're getting excited for the very next one. That's where we are."
In addition, Del Rio updated a number of injury statuses, which you can read here.
Below are more highlights from the coach's Monday press conference.
On if they'll have to call on the younger running backs if Moreno is not full-strength this weekend
"We'll continue to call on our guys. I think Knowshon yesterday was outstanding. It was a terrific ball game on his part and with the O-Line blocking for him. We continue to bring the young guys along and they'll continue to get time and if need be more time. I'll let (Running Backs Coach) Eric (Studesville) work through his group and (Offensive Coordinator) Adam (Gase) work through the rotation with Eric. We'll continue to work those guys, develop those guys, and do believe they can help us as we go through the year."
On the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter
That was a tremendous drive there, had to have it. Clutch drive, went down and got it. That was big time. That's the kind of thing you can have when you have a great player like (QB Peyton Manning). Offensively, we did a lot of great things. Really the thing that ended up killing us in the ball game was the turnovers. And I'm sure they would say the same thing, what happened to their first half with turnovers. So it was a little bit of a back-and-forth affair with both teams turning it over, about one and two, and in the end they made one more play than we did and won the game."
On whether there was miscommunication on the punt return at the end of the game
"I don't think that was the case. Certainly, (WR) Wes (Welker) would say, 'Hey I've got to be more emphatic getting the guy out of there' and then (CB) Tony (Carter) I'm sure would say, 'Hey I've got to be more aware there.' That's something that (Special Teams Coordinator) Jeff (Rodgers) does a great job—our special teams coaches do a great job—of drilling situations and teaching and talked awareness and things to be alert for and that was one of those situations. You're trying to block and the ball takes a bounce. It's just one of those fluke deals that can occur. We work hard and practice that to ensure it doesn't and it just got us—it bit us there. As coaches we have to say, 'Hey, we have to do an even better job of teaching the situational awareness there and helping our guys be better in that particular situation.' I think both players involved tried to take some blame and I think as a coach that's looking over it all I take some share or that blame. I think Jeff and his staff—we all kind of feel like we can do this a little bit better. I think it's a learning opportunity for us. Our season, everything we want to accomplish is in front of us. I know it doesn't feel good this morning, believe me. You fly back and you wonder, 'Is the sun going to come up?' But sure enough, before I got home, the sun was up (laughing). It's going to move, we're going to go on. We'll learn from this and I think we'll be a better football team coming out of this thing. It stings right now, that's all."
On if the weather changed the passing game plan
"No, I think our approach was to do the things that we could to move the football—to best utilize our guys against what they were trying to do. Move it and score points. We were effective for good portions of the ball game. I think if you protect that football and just don't turn it over, I think it's a different outcome."
On his overall take on the passing game
"We made some contested catches. They played a lot of drop coverage, a lot of eight-and-nine-men drop stop. I thought we took what was there. I thought that was one of the reasons we were able to pound it at them. If they're going to play that soft approach then we're going to have to be able to control the ball and run it. It was OK. We had some opportunities we missed and certainly as we come out of this film session and we say, 'Hey these are things we could have done better and we'll need to do better going forward.' We've got one of the great quarterbacks of all time and we've got great weapons out there. It was a blustery night that challenged some of those parts but I thought we excelled in some of the other things that you want to be able to do in those conditions. So, all in all, I think it was a solid approach. I think our guys fought hard and executed in spurts. We just didn't get enough; we came up a play short."
On if the defense lost energy in the second half
"I don't know if you call it energy. I thought we played hard the whole night. I thought we broke down on a couple things. We have the guy doubled (on the) 45-yard catch. We have to just be better there. They tried some different pick and wheel combinations and they hit us on one there for about a 33, 34-yard catch where we had handled that same route, same combination earlier in the game and handled it better—we just didn't handle it well there. We kind of had a couple lapses, whether you call it focus or concentration lapses there, that allows some chunks in getting them some momentum. I think when you couple that with a couple turnovers the next thing you know they're getting themselves back in the ball game and that's really what occurred."
On the turnovers this season
"Kryptonite. It's been kryptonite so far. I watched Man of Steel last night on the ride home. That's an issue and we've got to correct it. We've got to be better there. That's the one area that regardless of how good you are, that's the kind of thing that can really cripple you and we've got to protect the football better. We are preaching it. We are coaching it. I believe in the guys we have. I believe we can be better at it—we just have to be. It's just one of those things that as we do that better it will look a whole lot better. (LB) Von Miller, I just want to throw that out there—we talk about, 'Boy (would) love to see him become more impactful.' Well, he was impactful last night. He was very impactful last night. He worked hard during the week in terms of the way he prepared himself and I thought that we saw that in his performance so that's a positive sign. There is some positive to pull out of that ball game last night and so yes, you're right, we need to protect the football better. Clearly that's something we're going to continue to drive home, but there are also some good things going on."
On dedicating time in practice to ball security
"We dedicate more than you might think. We drill it, rip at it. We have different drills that our guys are being put through all the time. So we are definitely not only stressing it and talking it, but we are coaching it and drilling it. Look, I'm an optimistic guy. I believe that we're giving it the proper attention. I believe that is something that we can fix ourselves. We control that. And so I believe, as we do that, that we take away the one thing that has kind of been our kryptonite and hopefully it gets a lot better."