ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Broncos finished the regular season allowing an average of just 101.6 rushing yards per game – the third-best mark in the AFC.
Two of the top three backs in the NFL, Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy and Kansas City's Jamaal Charles, were held short of 100-yard games against the Broncos. In fact, the Broncos allowed only one back to break the 100-yard mark in a game – Ryan Matthews from San Diego.
For the first 11 weeks of the season, defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson was a big part of that run-stopping effort. Before he was moved to the injured reserve because a hip injury, Vickerson started all 11 games and had 22 total tackles, a sack and three passes defensed.
That injury forced him to watch the Broncos finish out the season and fight through the postseason from the sidelines.
"It was very emotional, very emotional," Vickerson said. "I couldn't hold back some of my tears pregame (Sunday). I think it was just wanting to play, wanting to be there, wanting to be out there with the guys. Other than that, it's fine. I had no outcome to do with the game and that's the part where you want to do something to change that, where you know I could play, do something better to help the team. But I'm on IR so it wasn't in my situation to do anything right now.
"I was just trying to be there and help the guys vocally and leadership – and just show what I could see on the field."
That was a role that Vickerson filled before his injury as well. The eighth-year defensive tackle had established himself as a leader on the defensive line and a big brother to fellow tackles Terrance Knighton and Sylvester Williams.
While he said that it will take some time to get the loss in Super Bowl XLVIII, he's already turned the page and has a long offseason in front of him.
"Everything is getting better," Vickerson said of his health. "A long offseason for me – starting out rehabbing, I already started and the strengthening process. So now it's just getting back in shape and getting the strength back, too."
He added that he "should be ready" for OTAs this offseason. But like many of the Broncos who cleaned out their lockers Tuesday at Dove Valley, Vickerson will take some time to let the season soak in before getting geared up for the next one.
"I haven't gotten over this one yet but my season ended – I had to get over that part of it," Vickerson said. "Right now, it's just – you're going to take two weeks or so, collect your thoughts, get yourself back in the mode, get recharged up and go at it again."