Knighton issues Super Bowl prediction for Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) John Fox has no problem with nose tackle Terrance ''Pot Roast'' Knighton's Super Bowl bravado.

''I think that's been the goal all season,'' the Denver Broncos coach said when asked for his take on Knighton's Joe Namath-like guarantee over the weekend that Denver will win it all.

''I think guys said it way back. The key - and they understand this - is how we get there,'' Fox said. ''We've been pretty good all season long at keeping our focus small. All our focus will be on the Cincinnati Bengals.''

The Broncos (11-3) can secure a first-round bye and keep the heat on New England for the No. 1 seed in the AFC bracket by beating the Bengals (9-4-1) Monday night.

In the jubilation of the Broncos' 22-10 win at San Diego on Sunday that clinched their fourth straight AFC West title, Knighton declared the Broncos will be the ones holding the Lombardi Trophy no matter what road they have to take to do it.

Even amid news that linebacker Danny Trevathan's season was over because of a dislocated kneecap and word that defensive MVP Brandon Marshall (foot) would be sidelined until the playoffs, Knighton isn't backing down from his promise.

''Some people call it a guarantee, some people call it whatever they want, but anything less than a Super Bowl victory is a disappointing season,'' Knighton said. ''So I stand by what I said. I don't care who we play, where we have to play, we won't be satisfied until we're hoisting that trophy. If New England wins out and we win out, and we end up meeting them, we'll have to go there and beat them. It's that simple.''

The last time the Broncos won in Foxborough, Massachusetts - 17-7 on Sept. 24, 2006 - John Fox was still in North Carolina, Peyton Manning was still in Indianapolis and John Elway was running an arena league team, not the Broncos front office.

Maybe the Broncos are getting ahead of themselves by talking about a return trip to Gillette Stadium, where Tom Brady and the Patriots pummeled the Broncos 43-21 on Nov. 2.

''I've felt that way the whole year,'' Knighton said. ''I felt that way when I signed here last year. This is one of those types of organizations where it's Super Bowl or bust. We have a high standard here. It starts with Mr. Elway. He wants championships and so do we.''

Everybody talks Super Bowl in the offseason, Knighton said, ''and around this time, teams start weeding themselves out. Obviously, we've earned the right to talk about it because we'll be in the playoffs.''

Although the scuffling Broncos aren't the scoring machine they were a year ago when they set a slew of NFL records, Knighton believes this year's team is better suited to winning a championship.

So, for all those fans and fantasy owners wondering if anything's wrong with Manning because he's been a mere mortal over the last month while the Broncos unearthed a much-needed ground game, relax, Knighton said.

''Teams that win right now and end up winning Super Bowls are teams that can play good defense and have offenses that can run the ball,'' he said. ''Right now, we're fulfilling that blueprint.''

Given that, you'd think Knighton had a little voice telling him last year's joyride would end in bitter disappointment just like it did.

''No, no, because we were on the same high horse that everybody else was on. We didn't feel like our offense could be stopped,'' Knighton said, ''and we felt like as a defense we only had to do enough to win. But now it's different. We want to be responsible for winning the game.''

This time there's no riding Superman's cape.

''No, it didn't work,'' Knighton said. ''I think since he's been here, it's been like that. So, I think you get veterans in the locker room like a DeMarcus Ware and T.J. Ward and a more mature Von Miller, they understand that defenses win championships.''

And Knighton doesn't mind talking about it.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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