DENVER — Several Broncos players had to be separated after a shouting match in the locker room after Sunday’s 16-3 loss to the New England Patriots that put the team’s playoff hopes on thin ice, according to NFL.com.
Defensive backs and offensive linemen were involved in an altercation after coach Gary Kubiak asked any of the players wanted to address the team, according to the report.
Left tackle Russell Okung wanted to speak, but according to the report, cornerback Aqib Talib objected, leading to shouting between the offensive linemen and the secondary.
“I definitely understand their frustration,” Okung told NFL.com. “They played well enough to win, and they held that team to 16 points, which a lot of teams don’t do. We’re an emotional team; that’s what makes us so good. To me, that’s part of who we are.
“When our defense is out there, they’re an emotional group, and they hold themselves to a high standard. As an offense, we need to do the same. So, I think (their frustration) is warranted. We’ve got to be better.”
The Broncos only surrendered 313 yards to the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady was limited to 188 passing yards, his lowest total in a game this season.
But the Broncos (8-6) committed three turnovers, were 2 for 12 on third down and had five consecutive three-and-outs to start the second half.
It was the Broncos’ sixth loss in 10 games and ended their five-year hold on the AFC West. With two games to play, the Broncos are ninth in the AFC playoff race and in jeopardy of missing the postseason for the first time since 2010.
“It’s tough to see your blood brothers, guys you go to work with every day, get frustrated and air it out like that. You wish it wasn’t that way,” receiver Demaryius Thomas told NFL.com. “But being as great a defense as they are, I can see why they’re frustrated.
“As an offensive player, you’ve got to be frustrated, too — but then, at a certain point, it’s hard to be frustrated. … You see the same thing for 14 weeks — we move the ball, move the ball, then get in the red area and we just fold. At some point, you just throw up your hands.”
Added safety T.J. Ward:
The Kansas City Chiefs (10-4), Miami Dolphins (9-5), Baltimore Ravens (8-6) and Tennessee Titans (8-6) are ahead of the Broncos for the two wild card berths.
The Broncos play Christmas Night at Kansas City before finishing at home on New Year’s Day against the Oakland Raiders (11-3).