For Fox, crushing loss doesn’t negate a season of growth
FOXBOROUGH - Even though his Broncos were broken like show ponies in a 45-10 loss to the Patriots, coach John Fox told his players he was proud of them last night.
“I thought they accomplished a lot,’’ he said. “I thought we came a long ways from a 1-4 start with a football team that had no offseason, no OTAs. You know, really, I was as proud of them as any team I have coached.’’
Fox was pleased, too, with quarterback Tim Tebow, who had started the season on the bench before being tapped to rally teammates to the divisional title.
“Kind of like our football team, I was really proud where he started and where he brought this team,’’ Fox said. “We are a work in progress. We have got a lot of work to do and that hasn’t changed for some time.’’
Though Tebow played all 60 minutes, Fox considered removing him when he appeared to be injured. “We thought Tim was dinged, but he just got the wind knocked out of him,’’ the coach said. “But at the time it looked like he was holding his shoulder and weren’t sure he was healthy. That’s typically what happens when you think your quarterback is hurt.’’
A snap decision
David Binn, whom the Broncos signed Friday to fill in for Lonie Paxton as long snapper, hadn’t hiked a ball in two seasons. After hurting a hamstring in the 2010 opener, the former Charger was put on injured reserve, ending his club-record 179-game streak, and was waived last August. Last night marked his 13th playoff game, more than anyone on the Denver roster except for Paxton (17), fellow ex-Patriot Russ Hochstein (14), and safety Brian Dawkins (18). With Paxton absent to tend to a family issue and backup Chris Kuper on IR after breaking a leg two weeks ago, Binn, who turns 40 next month, was the best player available.
Besides Paxton, Denver’s inactive players last night included Dawkins, receiver Eric Decker, defensive end Derrick Harvey, linebacker Mike Mohamed, tackle Ryan Harris, and tight end Julius Thomas.
Tim Tebow may be a son of the South who played his college ball in Florida but he was warming up in short sleeves and bare arms two hours before game time. Last night was only the second time all season the Broncos had played in below-freezing temperatures. In 14 of their games, the temperature at kickoff was 50 degrees or warmer. Their coldest outing - 30 degrees - came at Buffalo Christmas Eve. For their home date with the Patriots Dec. 18, the mercury read 63 . . . The Patriots will host Denver again next season, marking the 15th time in 18 years the teams have met during the regular season. The only years they missed were 2004, 2007, and 2010. The Broncos also will travel to Baltimore, Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Carolina for nondivisional games and will host Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Houston, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay.
Edgar Kaiser, the former Broncos owner, died Wednesday. He was the man who arranged the trade with Baltimore that landed John Elway, who refused to play for the woeful Colts, who had drafted him first overall in 1983. Kaiser, who sold the club to Pat Bowlen a year later, eventually ended up suing him after Bowlen offered Elway a stake in the club, which Kaiser claimed violated their agreement to give him first dibs. Obituary, B9.
Proven track record
Going into last night’s game the Broncos had an enviable 8-3 record in divisional playoffs and had lost only one since 1984. All but one of their victories - the 14-10 decision at Kansas City during the 1997 season - came at their mile-high corral. In their last two visits to Route 1, Denver was outscored, 86-17 . . . Though Broncos defenders were determined to throw lassoes around tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez last night, they were torched again, with Gronkowski catching 10 passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns and Hernandez four for 55 yards and one touchdown. In the teams’ two meetings, Gronkowski had 14 catches for 198 yards and Hernandez 13 for 184.
John Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.