Broncos know there's only 1 way to get respect
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Only four Pro Bowlers? On a defense that's No. 1 in the league against the pass AND the run, and could be one of the best ever?
No suspension for Pittsburgh's center who launched himself helmet-first into their strong safety, who was already playing on a bum left knee and a broken right leg?
Denver's defense has felt disrespected all season, and this week only brought more proof that if they really want admiration, the Broncos had better put a ring on it.
''I mean, we're not surprised by anything,'' cornerback Aqib Talib said. ''We've had the top-ranked D all year, no credit all year. We all know what it's going to take to get that credit, but we're just going to keep on strapping up, keep on playing.''
''Everybody on our D had a legit chance to go,'' Talib said. ''If they would have gone, you wouldn't have been able to say, `Why is he here?'''
Ward said he was ''definitely surprised'' more Denver defenders didn't get voted to the Pro Bowl: ''You've got the best defense in the league - one of the best defenses probably since the `90s - and you only have four guys that go?''
Actually, the Broncos (10-4), who host Cincinnati (11-3) Monday night, have a chance to become the first team since the 1970 merger to lead the league in total defense, scoring defense, sacks, and pass defense.
The Broncos are smarting over their second-half flop in Pittsburgh, where they allowed a 300-yard passer and an opponent to top 30 points for the first time all season. Denver's defenders are also mad the NFL didn't suspend Steelers center Cody Wallace for launching himself with his helmet into safety David Bruton Jr.'s head last weekend.
Late in the first quarter Sunday, Antonio Brown was being tackled when Jackson hit the wide receiver from the side. Wallace took exception and launched himself into the pile, striking Bruton, who wasn't looking, on the crown of his helmet. The hit sent Bruton to the sideline, where he was checked for a concussion.
Wallace was fined $23,152, but not suspended like Talib was earlier this season for poking a player in the eye.
''Well, I'm glad he got something. I was worried he was going to get away scot-free,'' Bruton said.
His teammates were less diplomatic, suggesting the league was out to get the Broncos - Denver's defense has incurred 22 personal fouls this season and the Broncos have 27 overall - but looks the other way with other teams.
''If I put a guy's life in danger by doing this,'' Talib said, making an eye-poke gesture, ''and it costs me $350,000, man, that definitely puts somebody's life in danger.''
Other Broncos suggested that what Odell Beckham Jr. got suspended for this week pales in comparison to a 300-pound lineman getting a running start and spearing an unsuspecting player who had his head down after the play was over.
Bruton said Wallace should have been suspended, too, and Harris agreed.
''If that was us that hit him, we would have been suspended,'' Harris said, adding, ''I don't even think Odell's hit was worse than what Cody did to Brut.''
Ward, who was ejected from a game this season, said he can't make any sense of the league's discipline.
''This year has been crazy,'' Ward said. ''There's been a lot of things that if I would have done, I probably would have been kicked out of the game. And if some of my teammates would have done it, we would have gotten kicked out of the game and fined. You see that other teams and other players are doing similar things - or worse - and there are really no repercussions to it. So, that's really frustrating.''
NOTES: Safeties Stewart and Omar Bolden missed practice again with hamstring injuries and ILB Todd Davis (shoulder) and Peyton Manning (foot) also were absent. Manning threw indoors again on his own Thursday.
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