Broncos dismiss talk of moral victory at Seattle

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — John Fox doesn't want to hear about moral victories.

Sure, there were plenty of positives to take from Denver's 26-20 overtime loss at Seattle on Sunday that was such a far cry from the shellacking the Broncos endured in the Super Bowl.

Emmanuel Sanders' career day. Wes Welker's return. Peyton Manning's poise. Demaryius Thomas' toe tap. A swarming defense that played lights out before getting gassed in overtime.

"Do you mean is there a moral victory? The answer to that would be no," Fox said Monday. "But like all games, you have things you do well and things you don't do well. We call it the good, the bad and the ugly. We ended up on the short end."

All those good things could prove ample tinder for another Super Bowl run, however.

"As I told the team, it was good," Fox said. "But we're looking for great. And we're not there yet."

Nose tackle Terrance Knighton said Denver's defense, while finally showing the physicality and edge that GM John Elway spent more than $100 million in free agency to obtain, wasn't without blame.

"We watched the tape. We played great in spurts," Knighton said. "It hurt to see some plays ... that we should have made."

Knighton didn't take any solace in making a game of it this time, either.

"To me, 43-8 and 26-20 are the same thing," Knighton said. "It's still a loss."

The bulk of the blame this time went to an offense that's struggled to resemble the record-breaking unit that piled up points last year, when Manning set NFL records with 55 TD passes and 5,447 yards passing.

"You don't do that two years in a row," Fox said. "That formula doesn't necessarily work. So, we're not trying to mimic statistics. ... Everybody's looking at statistics. The only statistic that matters is winning."

And the Broncos are 2-1 heading into their bye week.

Although it comes early, the Broncos welcome the break because they have plenty of corrections to make and changes to ponder, as the inconsistency and miscommunication in Seattle showed.

Denver's ground game has struggled without Knowshon Moreno. Thomas had two more drops, giving him five so far. Montee Ball fumbled the ball away on his first carry and gained just 29 yards on his final 13 runs.

C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman weren't any better, leading fans to clamor for changes to the O-line and for the Broncos to take the bubble wrap off rookie running back Juwan Thompson.

Asked about his offensive line, Fox didn't dismiss the possibility of changes.

"We evaluate everybody every day," Fox said. "So, those are all options at any position."

There was a notion this offseason that the Broncos made wholesale changes on defense but only tweaked their offense.

That's simply not true, Fox said.

"There's five new starters," he said. "You've got Emmanuel Sanders, he's a new link. You've got Orlando Franklin at guard, you've got (right tackle) Chris Clark on a wholly different side. You've got (left tackle) Ryan Clady coming off of injury.

"I mean, it's not a well-oiled machine," Fox said. "We've played three games. And one of those was against a pretty good defense in a pretty hostile environment, particularly on offense."

As for Denver's 75-yard rushing average, Fox said it's not unexpected given the small sample size, the tough opponents — the Colts, Chiefs and Seahawks averaged a dozen wins last year — and all the changes.

"We're all new. All those moving parts haven't played together yet," Fox said. "We have a completely different offensive line. We have a completely different running back as a starter."

Ball insisted Monday that Manning's not going to have to carry this team by himself again.

"It's still early in a long season and we're going to get things going," Ball said. "Some people may disagree, but I believe we are tough. We do fight. I think we proved that yesterday.

"I just think we went up against three really good opponents in the first three games. Nobody's panicked. We've played the Colts, Chiefs, the Seahawks. Those aren't really cupcake teams."

Notes: S David Bruton (sprained right ankle) is day-to-day. ... TE Virgil Green (concussion) won't practice this week. ... Fox chuckled when asked in jest if he'd consider sending Manning out to catch a pass the way Russell Wilson did Sunday. "You just never know," Fox said. "Big target."


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