ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos fell just short of defeating the Chiefs in a tough battle on Sunday, but with the odds stacked against them and an interim head coach at the helm, they put up an impressive fight.
In a 27-24 battle, Denver was in the game until the very end — and despite facing a Super Bowl contender, the team never gave up hope.
Its resilience was a testament to the players' commitment to one another and to the fan base, Interim Head Coach Jerry Rosburg said Monday. While he may be in charge, Rosburg passed the credit on to the coaches and players who have been working tirelessly since the offseason to put a good product on the field.
"They didn't rally for me," Rosburg said. "I had nothing to do with it. They rallied for them, they rallied for these fans. They've got so much more invested than me. These coaches have so much more invested than me. I was sitting on my dock drinking coffee [at the start of the season], and here I am, standing in front of you. So, it wasn't about me, and it's not going to be about me this week."
As the team approaches the final contest of what has been a physically and emotionally taxing season, Rosburg noted that his only goal is for the players to have a reason to celebrate at the end of the game.
"I want those players to come off the field on Sunday, go in the locker room and hug each other and laugh," Rosburg said. "I want them to go out in the parking lot with their families, and their wives are happy, and their children are laughing. I want the fans to be cheering them. I want to see them drive away from the stadium, and they're waving at them. ... I want these guys and these families and these fans to experience the joy of winning. Winning is its own reward."
A WIN IN THE WEST
After going 0-5 against AFC West opponents this season, the Broncos have one last opportunity to secure a divisional win this weekend. Denver narrowly fell to Los Angeles in overtime in Week 6, and Broncos Country is eager to see a victory over one of the franchise's rivals in this rematch.
Rosburg acknowledged the gravity of what a win over an AFC West team would mean for the team and the fan base, but he said that his sole focus is to come away with a win, regardless of the opponent.
"I recognize the importance of the West, but more importantly for me at this point in time, I recognize the importance of this win for our team and our fans," Rosburg said. "I don't care who we're playing this weekend; it's still going to be really important. I don't think you can ramp up the importance of this game just because it's the Chargers. ... Divisional games are always really important in the National Football League, and that should be, and is, a goal of most teams in this league because that's how you get to the playoffs — that's the natural path. The past games that this team has suffered through in the AFC West, I recognize [that], but that's not where I'm looking. I'm looking at this game as an opportunity for our players and our fans to enjoy a win. I want to see our guys in the locker room celebrate with one another. I want to allow them to have a good feeling when they leave the locker room and go see their families. That's my goal."
If the team can finish the season on a high note and celebrate a hard-fought victory, Rosburg noted, the joy of winning will mean significantly more than breaking a losing streak.
"We can talk about the streaks, the negative things, but I'm not trying to end any negative streak," Rosburg said. "I'm not going to go tell these guys, 'Well, don't lose again.' That's silly. We're going to go out there, and we're going to play with passion. Hopefully we play better than we played yesterday. Hopefully we get in the locker room, and we celebrate. That's what I'm looking for."
OPTIMIZING THE OFFENSE FOR WILSON
In the Broncos' game against the Chiefs, quarterback Russell Wilson had one of his more productive performances as a Bronco. He displayed vintage mobility with two rushing touchdowns, and the offensive game plan put the nine-time Pro Bowler in a great position to consistently drive the offense down the field.
Rosburg noted that he worked with Offensive Coordinator Justin Outten and Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Klint Kubiak to design an offensive plan that would bring the best out of Wilson, and while they were largely successful, Rosburg said that there is more they can improve upon in the final week of the season.
"We had lengthy discussions on what this [offense] was going to look like, and while I will say we got started down that path, I'm certain we're not at our finished product yet," Rosburg said. "We've been taking into consideration a lot of things when we make our offensive game plans — of course the opponent, and where we have players at certain positions — and Russell Wilson is at the apex of that. [We're asking,] 'What does Russell do well and how can we assist him?' ... We want to do the things that he does well, and we want him to be fully bought in to those things, and I really believe that happened last week."