LANDOVER, Md. — Christmas Day offers an escape for many of the Broncos as players and coaches will spend time with their families and enjoy the week's off day.
Tuesday, though, will mean a return to work for the final time this season as the Broncos approach their season-ending game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
And as the football week begins Tuesday, the Broncos will again face a decision regarding whether Brock Osweiler or Paxton Lynch will start at quarterback.
Lynch, who is recovering from a high-ankle sprain he suffered in Week 12 against the Raiders, practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of the Broncos' game in Washington. He was a full participant Friday, but Osweiler started and played the entirety of Sunday's contest.
Head Coach Vance Joseph noted earlier in the week that Lynch's health would play a key role in determining whether he would start vs. Washington.
Following Sunday's game, Joseph reiterated that point.
"Our goal is to see him play, so absolutely," Joseph said. "If he's ready to go next week, he will probably play for us."
Lynch and Osweiler split repetitions before the Broncos traveled to Washington, but Joseph did not say after Sunday's game whether that formula would remain the same ahead of Week 17.
After the Week 16 loss, Osweiler, who finished 22-of-38 for 193 yards, an interception and a fumble, addressed the decision to split repetitions.
"I don't think it's ideal," Osweiler said. "But bottom line is I've been a backup in this league. I've been a starter in this league. I know how to prepare with no reps. I know how to prepare with all of the reps. Was it ideal? No. But is it an excuse? Absolutely not."
The Broncos don't have any playoff positioning to play for in Week 17**, but several players stressed the need to prepare as professionals and finish out the season on a high note.
"Come in, play and take advantage of the opportunity and just play," Von Miller said. "We have a great Chiefs team coming up and we've got to go out there and play."
Added Shelby Harris, "We've got one week left to come out and try and put on a dominating performance. We've got to prove to ourselves that this is not who we are. I know our record might not say it, but we are way better than the score was today … and what did we lose by? Sixteen? So, it's just that we've got to be better, all of us. It's not just one side. It's everyone – defense, offense and special teams. We can't come out flat whenever we have a break. That turns into eight straight as we saw, so we've got to do something this week to turn it around."
- After he ran for 88 yards on Sunday, running back C.J. Anderson sits just 54 yards away from his first career 1,000-yard rushing output.
"Yeah, I've got one game to do it, so that's a good pressure. I've got one game to do it and need to make it happen. Just keep grinding. I know that O-line is going to play well for it. The receivers will block for it. I'll just continue to keep doing what I'm doing – keep my head down and keep grinding."
Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie took responsibility after Sunday's loss** for a decision at the end of the first half that cost the Broncos at least three points. After a short reception, McKenzie chose to fight back toward the middle of the field rather than step out of bounds to stop the clock. Time expired before the Broncos could get another snap off, and they went to the locker room down 10-3.
"I should have gotten out of bounds," McKenzie said. "I just caught the ball and mentally was like, 'Make a play.' Unfortunately, I didn't make the right decision."
Joseph talked to the young player, and McKenzie shared his coach's advice.
"He just said I've just got to get out of bounds in a situation like that – just keep my head up and keep playing. This was before the half, so I just need to come in the second half and do a better job."