ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The lesson Head Coach Vance Joseph wanted to convey to his team Monday was simple: Even though tempers can get fiery in the heat of a game, you can't get drawn into a situation that puts participation at risk.
The Broncos were forced to play most of the game without cornerback Aqib Talib after he was ejected when Michael Crabtree came to blows with him one play after Crabtree "sucker-punched" cornerback Chris Harris Jr., according to Harris, who was forced to leave for a play after being treated on the field before returning to the game.
"It's unacceptable. We can't do it. I'm not going to speak for the Raiders. I'm not going to speak for their intent. But we can't do it," Joseph said. "We can't lose our best corner in a game like that.
"It obviously hurt us down the stretch, and I told our guys, 'If we can defuse those things, we have to defuse them.' We can't fall into the trap of getting into a fight that ends up losing one of our best players. We can't do it. It's unacceptable."
Talib agreed with Joseph that the incident could have been defused.
"I guess the second half of it definitely could have been defused. That's what I'm disappointed about," Talib said. "The first half, that was [Crabtree] being extra. That's what he wanted. He wanted in. He didn't want to play that game. He wanted to come out and rassle all day. So that's how it happened."
Both teams had multiple players involved, including some that attempted to play peacemaker during the incident. Talib, Crabtree and Oakland guard Gabe Jackson were ejected, with Jackson thrown out for making contact with an official.
"I don't really know what [Crabtree] came out there to do," Talib said. "I just came out there to play football. He came out here on his extra stuff, so one thing led to another. It's unfortunate. I wish that it didn't happen, but it happened."
While Talib could face league punishment, Joseph said that the 10-year veteran would not face any team-issued discipline.
"When those things start, guys, it's a fine line between not defending yourself once it starts," Joseph said. "I'm not going to speak for the Raiders. I'm going to speak for our guys. I don't want it. But once it happens, how does a guy not defend himself? Punches are being thrown. Helmets are off.
"I don't want that to happen. But once it happens, you can't blame a man for defending himself."
DEFENDING STEWART'S HIT:** Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio was rankled about Stewart's collision with Oakland wide receiver Amari Cooper in the second quarter Sunday, calling it a "vicious hit" and claiming that Cooper was "targeted right in the head" by Stewart.
"I'm not going to speak for the Raiders. As a coach, when things happen on the field you have to go back and watch the tape before you make comments like that," Joseph said.
What Joseph saw was entirely different.
"'Stew' was trying to avoid the guy," Joseph said. "'Stew' hurt himself avoiding hitting the kid in the neck and the head area. The ball was thrown way inside of the hash[mark] and it was thrown high, 'Stew' went to make a play on the ball and the receiver ducked, in my opinion.
"'Stew' pulled his head out to not make helmet-to-helmet contact and lowered his shoulder. Cooper's head is under Darian's elbow.
"To me, it was a good football play. So it was not a dirty play, in my opinion."
A look at the Broncos' game against the Raiders in black and white. (Photos by Gabriel Christus unless noted)