Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) sacks Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)
Joe Mahoney
December 15, 2015

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos insist their locker room won't be split apart after blunders on offense and special teams - and a bad play by the new guy - wasted an historical effort by the league's top-ranked defense.

''We're a team, we're brothers,'' linebacker Brandon Marshall said. ''Just because your brother isn't doing so well that doesn't mean you have the right to get on him.''

Marshall said the league's top-ranked defense holds no grudges against the NFL's 24th-ranked offense, one that can't seem to find the end zone no matter if Brock Osweiler or Peyton Manning is taking the snap.

Tight end Virgil Green said Denver's defenders always have the offense's back even when things aren't going well - and that's happened a lot this season.

''Every time we put the defense in a bad situation, I know I didn't hear those guys saying anything negative on the way out,'' Green said. ''And when we're on the sideline, you've got Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, all those guys coming up trying to build us up, they're not showing any animosity toward us because offensively we didn't play well. We don't point fingers around here.''

Unless they're looking in the mirror. Osweiler took the blame for the loss Sunday, as did Shiloh Keo. So did Emmanuel Sanders and Vernon Davis.

The frustrations boiled over in the locker room after Denver's 15-12 loss to Oakland when Harris, who held Amari Cooper without a catch, fumed, ''I'm hot. We're not supposed to lose that game. Defensive-wise, we played great.''

Except, he noted, for that one play by Keo, who blew the coverage on Michal Rivera's game-winning touchdown grab five days after joining the team because of a rash of injuries at safety.

Instead of celebrating one of the greatest halves of football by any defense ever - minus-12 yards - the Broncos were left to explain why:

-Sanders muffed a punt at his own 11 without being hit.

-Brandon McManus missed a game-tying field goal after nailing four in the first half when the offense kept stalling.

-Davis dropped a wide open pass on fourth down for a huge gain with the game on the line.

-Demaryius Thomas keeps dropping throws that are hitting him right between the 8s on his jersey.

-The coaching staff didn't put a tight end in the game to help right tackle Michael Schofield, who surrendered four of Kahlil Mack's five second-half sacks.

Coach Gary Kubiak said he wasn't worried the blunders would start to tear apart his team, which takes a 10-3 record into Pittsburgh on Sunday.

''Frustration is a part of football,'' Kubiak said. ''... We're a football team and we go about our day that way all the time. I don't mind frustrations at all as a coach because we work hard at what we do, but you get over those really quick and you go to the next week and that's what we'll do.''

He defended Schofield, reiterating the confidence and pride he has in the second-year pro and first-year starter. He noted Schofield has played through an ankle injury.

And he defended Keo, who was playing alongside Josh Bush, who was signed two weeks ago.

''Obviously it's a coverage we should have handled better,'' Kubiak said. ''We've got a couple of young guys back there playing who don't have a lot of snaps under their belt. ... We've got confidence in those guys. As we try to get David (Bruton Jr.) healthy and Omar (Bolden) healthy, those guys are going to have to play well for us.''

Talib said the Broncos will have forgotten all about their foible-filled loss by the time they report to work Wednesday to begin preparations for the Steelers (8-5).

''Great win, terrible loss, you've got to turn the page regardless,'' Talib said.

Harris said he's ready to move on, too.

''It's a done deal. We watched the film, turned the page and now it's over,'' he said. ''Now we're just focused on Pittsburgh and what we have to do to get this win. It's a pivotal game for us to bounce back. I think that we can do it.''

---

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

---

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

You May Like