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Next Day Notebook: vs. Chargers


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **The sting was undeniable, but the Broncos won't let their 27-20 loss to the Chargers on Thursday night linger very long.

Instead, it's back to the grind and onto preparing for their Dec. 22 road game against the Texans.

"We're going to come in tomorrow and work on it," linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. "It's going to sting for a couple of days, but it's the NFL. We have to continue to move on to the next week."

Woodyard noted that being sharp for a Texans team that has been eliminated from the postseason and has nothing to lose will be especially important.

"Houston is going to come in and they're not going to care about a win or a loss," he said. "They're going to want to try to get a victory too. We have to bounce back stronger than we ever can."

The Broncos will have a lengthy 10-day stretch before they take on the Texans. Linebacker Danny Trevathan noted, however, that he won't let the loss stay on his mind for much of that stretch – but instead that he hopes to use the time to grow from the Chargers game and prepare for Houston.  

"You think about it until today," Trevathan said. "You want to get prepared for what's coming along, but use this game to get better at the same time. We've got a long week, but it's worthwhile. We're going to put in the work."

And while the loss struck a sour note for the Broncos' regular-season home finale, cornerback Chris Harris Jr. noted that there was plenty that the team can learn and grow from – with the loss serving as motivation down the stretch.

"It's not the end of the world. You're going to take losses," Harris Jr. said. "It's definitely – I think it's good to be able to learn from this game, learn from not trying to beat ourselves. It kind of keeps everybody hungry. When you take a loss like this, it kind of wakes everybody up to step their game up another level. We'll definitely bounce back."

The first step starts with getting back to work at Dove Valley on Friday.

"We just go back to work tomorrow – look at film, correct some of my mistakes," wide receiver Andre Caldwell said. "And we're just going to get better every week, every day and practice a little harder to win these games."

Losing the Time of Possession Battle

Perhaps the most notable statistic separating the Broncos and Chargers on Thursday night was time of possession.

San Diego held the ball for 38:49, with the greatest chunk of that possession coming in the second and third quarters, when the Chargers offense was on the field for nearly 23-and-a-half minutes.

"They controlled the game by us not getting off on third down," Woodyard said. "If you don't get off on third down, teams can run the ball on you. That's something that we have to continue to get better at. We can't let a team control the clock on us like that."

Ultimately, the Chargers ate up the clock and kept the Broncos offense off the field and at bay for much of the game – a strategy that quarterback Peyton Manning noted he was familiar with playing against.

"I've dealt with it before. Teams have tried a similar game plan before where they are snapping the ball with two seconds, one second (left on the clock)," Manning said. "(San Diego Chargers QB) Philip (Rivers) looks like he calls a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage and he's trying to get them into a good play. When they're doing that they are taking a lot of time off the clock."

Still, Manning noted that the Broncos offense wasn't proficient enough in making the most of the opportunities it had when it finally did get on the field.

"It's our job to score points when we have the ball, no matter if we have it for 40 minutes or 20 minutes," Manning said. "We had it for 20 tonight; we didn't do a good enough job on offense and that's something that we have to correct."

Broncos No Longer Control Destiny

The loss also meant that Denver no longer controls its own destiny towards becoming the top-overall seed in the AFC Playoffs. The Patriots now have the open road towards earning homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, but Caldwell noted that the top-overall seed is still in the Broncos' sights.

"That is the bad part. We don't control our own destiny," Caldwell said. "Hopefully, (the Patriots) could go down and we could get a home field advantage because we like to be in this atmosphere and this crowd in Denver."

Still, as defensive tackle Terrance Knighton noted, finding a way to bounce back and grow stronger as the postseason nears remains the Broncos' top priority.

"We're taking it one day at a time," Knighton said. "It's the NFL. (The Chargers) came out with way more urgency, trying to save their season and now we just have to dig ourselves out of a whole. We want to be the number one team going into the playoffs and if things don't happen that way, then cool. We just have to bounce back and we just have to find some resolve."

At the end of the day, playoff seeding is out of the Broncos' hands – but, as cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie noted, they're concerned only with what they can control.

"We can't worry about that," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "We have to worry about Houston, going to Houston. That's the next team up. Conference game. Try to get back on the winning side."

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