DENVER — Speaking to the media after the heartbreaking 38-35 loss to the Ravens in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday, Broncos Head Coach John Fox said it was not the team’s best performance, and “we just didn’t get it done.”
Sitting next to Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway, the two Broncos leaders took questions for about 35 minutes on Monday wrapping up the season.
Elway mentioned a couple of different times, “we did not want to be here talking to you today.”
One of the biggest criticisms surrounding the loss revolved around the Broncos decision to run out of the clock with :31 left in regulation, tied at 35. Coach Fox says he’d do it again.
“Well, going into a little bit of what happened before that, with :41 seconds left in regulation we watched a 70-yard bomb go over our head. There is a certain amount of shock value, a little bit like a prize fighter taking a right cross on the chin at the end of a round,” Fox said.
“We’re looking to get out of the round. That might not be the ideal time to go for a knockout punch. One of the things, when you’re a coach, you’re around the players for 20 games prior to that, including preseason. You get a little bit of a better feel of where they’re at—the look in the eye, their feeling. It was pretty devastating. It just didn’t seem the right time. It didn’t look like the right look, understandably, to go for the jugular right about then.”
Elway added his support, “I thought we did the right thing at that time. I think with where the team was mentally and the situation that we’re in, I thought that it was a good move.”
There have been many comparisons made the 1996 Broncos team. Led by John Elway, they were a Superbowl favorite, until the Jacksonville Jaguars came to Denver and won.
Eliminating the 13-3 Broncos from the playoffs in the Divisional Round. Elway says it’s a bit different this time around.
“Looking back as a player, it’s a little bit different. My window was a lot shorter as a player back in ’96 than it is now sitting where I am. So in that respect it’s different, but I think looking at it and how we deal with it, it’s the same and the bottom line is, it will be something that these players will remember for a long time. They’ll never forget what happened on Saturday. They’ll never forget that and I think we’ll use that as we did in ’96. It was a great incentive for us to come back and have even a better year the following year as we did in ’97 so, like I said, it’s how we approach it, how we use it, how we learn from it and it gives us an opportunity to be that much better next year.”
As for getting over the loss and moving, Coach Fox says it stays with you.
“I think as a coach, and I know John [Elway], as a competitor, you relive it, you redo it, you second guess—I don’t even know how to explain it but it stays with you. We call them scars in our business and you remember it because it doesn’t go away like most scars and you learn from it. It’s like any mistake. First of all you, you’ve got to admit it, second of all, you’ve got to fix it and third of all, you’ve got to not let it happen again. I think that’s just part of growth and I feel good that we’ll learn from it and get better for it.”
The Broncos coaching staff will head to Hawaii next week to coach the Pro Bowl. Denver was the top AFC seed to lose, earning the Pro Bowl consolation prize. Broncos player named to the Pro Bowl include Peyton Manning, Von Miller, Chapm Bailey, Elvis Dumervil and Ryan Clady.
Players will officially be back at Dove Valley in mid-April when the offseason conditioning program begins.