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ORCHARD PARK, NY – SEPTEMBER 24: Kneeling during the national anthem before the Denver Broncos play the Buffalo Bills in week 3 at New Era Stadium, Orchard Park, NY. (Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post)

Kneeling during the national anthem before the Denver Broncos play the Buffalo Bills in week 3 at New Era Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y.

The Denver Broncos rightly stood strong against President Donald Trump’s cynical attack on the NFL last Sunday, when 32 players took a knee during the national anthem with the support of the team and its management. We’re pleased to see the team has decided to return this Sunday to its normal pregame practice of standing reverently for the national anthem.

No one wants to see something as uplifting as sport tarnished by the seemingly endless antagonisms of our national politics.

The Broncos had to act last Sunday. The president forced the team, and others throughout the league, into a tough decision with his profane argument that club owners should fire any player who exercised his First Amendment right to protest. As someone infamous for admiring strength and deploring weakness, Trump should be able to understand that his tirade compelled teams to either wilt or push back. Like teams across the country, the Broncos rightly and wonderfully stood with their own.

But as head coach Vance Joseph noted Thursday, the message wasn’t connecting broadly with fans. “It was making this whole issue confusing to the fans, to the military, to the players, to the coaches,” Vance said. “No one had clarity.”

And so the players sought to set things straight. “Make no mistake,” they said in a statement, “our actions were in no way a protest of the military, the flag or those who keep us safe. We have nothing but the deepest love and respect for those who protect our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.”

In laying out our reasons for supporting the Broncos and other teamsearlier this week, we argued that players like Brandon Marshall who decided in earlier games to kneel during the anthem did so out of respect and compassion. Kneeling suggests prayerful reflection. Players like Marshall, who demonstrated last season and in this one, were simply trying to draw attention to serious injustices confronting black men, including disturbing recent events where black men were been killed by police and video or other evidence revealed the shooting to be unjust.

Should some individuals continue to kneel, we hope fans are able to view the demonstration in that context.

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Broncos linebacker Shaq Barrett joined CBS4 sports anchor Michael Spencer for Xfinity Monday Live at the ViewHouse Centennial this week.

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – Shaquil Barrett missed the majority of training camp while dealing with a hip injury he suffered back in May. “I’m feeling it from the game yesterday,” Barrett joked. “Other than that I’m still healthy and just ready to go.”

The Broncos suffered their first loss of the season to the Buffalo Bills 26-16 on Sunday.

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So was it a crafty Bills team that won – or did a sloppy Broncos team just lose?

Did the Bills beat the Broncos or did the Broncos beat themselves?

That’s the question Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro of The Afternoon Drive posed to linebacker Todd Davis today.

“I think we beat ourselves,” he said. “We had a lot of mental errors and dumb penalties that put us in bad situations. …There were a lot of self-inflicted wounds yesterday.”

Davis is not wrong about the errors.

Broncos had 10 penalties for 79 yards, including Von Miller’s unsportsmanlike conduct call that kept a fourth-quarter drive alive for the Bills and allowed them to eat the clock and put more points on the board.

The Broncos also had two turnovers that gave the Bills excellent field position and more importantly took away potential scoring opportunities for a team needing to play catch up much of the game.

Finally, in the bonehead call of the year (so far), the Broncos decided to try a fake punt.

On 4th-and-2.

From their own 31.

But let’s be clear about who beat whom in this game.

The Bills beat the Broncos.

The Bills had the better game plan. The Bills had the better execution. The Bills forced the mistakes. And, well, the Bills got two breaks on terrible ref calls agains the Broncos (I’ll let you pick which two).

But the Bills were the better team and that was the problem.

“They beat us,” head coach Vance Joseph said Monday back in Denver. “They beat us in the critical errors, what we’ve talked about. Red zone, third downs, and not turning the ball over – they didn’t do those thing and we did. They won the football game fair and square.”

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The Denver Broncos did well in key situations on defense, but lost anyway.

The were many reasons why the Broncos lost on Sunday. Neither 3rd & long defense nor first down run defense were factors in the loss. Both were silver linings.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills

Stopping the run on first down

As we have done in the first two games, we did so in this game. We stuffed the run on first down. The Bills ran the ball 13 times on first down for 27 yards (2.08 ypc). The Bills had 24 first down plays (excluding kneeldowns). Of those 13 runs, two ended in TFLs (both 4 yards behind the LOS) and one in a stop for no gain. Their longest run on first down was 9 yards (Mike Tolbert in the second quarter). So our D was quite effective at stopping the run on first down. For the season we have held opponents to 90 rushing yards on 31 first down carries (2.90 ypc) with 4 TFLs and 3 stops for no gain.

Unfortunately we were equally as ineffective at stopping the pass on first down. Tyrod Taylorwas 10 for 10 throwing the ball on first down for 82 yards and a TD. We did sack him once on a first down pass, but three of those passes resulted in a first down (31 yard catch by Nick O’Leary and 15 and 10 yard catches by LeSean McCoy) and one resulted in a TD (6-yd catch by Charles Clay). The last time a QB completed every first down pass against us was before 1998, if it has ever happened before. Tom Brady hasn’t done that against us. Philip Rivershas never done that against us.

For the game Taylor was 20 of 26 – 77% completion. Going back to the 1998 season, there have only been 22 instances of opposing starting QBs (leaving out the guys who came in for garbage time relief passing a blowout) completing 75% or more of their passes against the Broncos. The Broncos are 4-18 in those games. The last time we won a game where we allowed that high of a completion percentage was 2008 – when we beat the Bucs with Jeff Garcia completing 13 of 17 passes against us for 93 yards.

Overall the run defense was good for the game holding the Bills to 75 yards on 33 carries (2.27 pc). For the season we have the best run defense in the league – allowing 2.59 ypc after three games (179 yards on 69 carries). The Seahawks (who who had the best ypc allowed last season) are currently allowing a league worst 5.34 ypc.

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ORCHARD PARK, NY – SEPTEMBER 24: Denver Broncos running back Jamaal Charles #28 is stopped by Buffalo Bills cornerback E.J. Gaines #28 in the second half as the Denver Broncos play the Buffalo Bills in week 3 at New Era Stadium, Orchard Park, NY. (Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post)

Forty percent of the Broncos’ rushing total came in a span of two plays Sunday

C.J. Anderson took the handoff from Trevor Siemian during the second quarter in Buffalo on Sunday and darted toward a sliver of light to the left of center Matt Paradis. Once he was past the defensive line, the Broncos running back cut sharply to his right and burned up the sideline for a 32-yard gain.

After a late hit on Bills safety Micah Hyde following Anderson’s big run, the Broncos were deep inside Buffalo territory. Two plays later, Jamaal Charles broke tackles on the way to a 12-yard touchdown run, his first with the Broncos. In a flash, Denver showed why it entered Sunday’s game as the NFL’s top rushing team. It was a sequence of aggressive downfield blocking, breakaway speed and a tough finish.

Yet those two plays, in the span of 26 seconds, accounted for 40 percent of the Broncos’ 111 rushing yards in their 26-16 loss. For much of the first 10 quarters of the season, the Broncos looked like a dominant rushing force. But the consistency Denver produced in the run game that had become a major weapon during back-to-back victories to open the season never materialized in the second half.

After averaging 37.5 carries in victories over the Chargers and Cowboys, the Broncos ran the ball only 23 times Sunday.

“We’re usually in third-and-manageable,” Anderson said Monday. “When you start getting into third-and-10s, third-and-12s, third-and-15s, a bunch of those, there’s not too many calls my man Mike (McCoy) can make for first downs. We don’t sit there and practice third-and-12s all day. It’s up to us.

“Part of that is us running the ball on first down effectively. Or, if we’re passing the ball, make sure we’re not putting ourselves in the hole with penalties and false starts and things of that nature. It’s up to us to be more productive on first down to make that work.”

The inability to run the ball on first down was Denver’s biggest failing in the run game Sunday. On 10 first-down rushing attempts, the Broncos gained only 29 yards. Take away the 12-yard touchdown run by Charles and Denver had only 17 yards on nine carries, a paltry 1.9 yards per rush. The result was a lack of momentum from the start. The Broncos needed at least nine yards to gain on four of their first five third-down attempts.

“They gave us a number of different looks and they kept us guessing,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. “They played a lot of heavy box stuff on obvious run downs and forced us to throw the football. We threw it enough and we didn’t win enough on the outside.”

The Broncos weren’t sounding alarm bells Monday. They still managed 4.8 yards per rush against the Bills. Their 143 rushing yards per game are still third-most in the league. Charles was a bright spot Sunday, and he’s averaging an impressive 5.1 yards per carry, showing no signs of the knee problems that hampered him for much of the past two seasons. The Broncos could also soon get running back Devontae Booker, who has missed the first two games while continuing to recover from wrist surgery, back into the mix.

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Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott shouldered some of the blame for his team’s 42-17 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 2, admitting his effort was lacking.

“I would say I was just very frustrated, but that’s no excuse for the lack of effort I showed on tape,” Elliott said Thursday, per Todd Archer of ESPN.com. “I just can’t do that. Being one of the leaders on the team and being a guy that people count on, I can’t put that type of stuff on film.”

Archer noted two interceptions stood out. Elliott had his hands on his hips after Chris Harris Jr. picked off a Dak Prescott pass, and he stayed on the ground after blocking and never chased Aqib Talib while the defensive back returned a different interception for a touchdown.

“Zeke’s a professional,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said, per Archer. “Zeke knows how to play football at this level. He’s demonstrated that over the course of his career. He’s not perfect. Nobody is perfect. When things happen, we address them. We coach them, and then we move forward.”

Elliott’s comments come after Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson said “he absolutely quit on his team” when discussing the Cowboys back on NFL Network (via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News).

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Three days after being carted off the field, Denver Broncos rookie left tackle is back on the practice field.

Whether the Denver Broncos first round rookie left tackle Garett Bolles is listed as ‘Limited’ ‘Full’ or ‘DNP’ (Did Not Participate) is yet to be seen, but Bolles is at the moment participating in Denver’s Thursday practice:

He’s even participating with a helmet on and everything in the first 15 minutes of practice, that’s when reporters are allowed to take photos and tweet.

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Age might be just a number, but it can be an important one when facing the Denver Broncos‘ defense.

Denver’s defense, which has finished among the league’s top four in either scoring defense or total defense in four of the past five seasons, has made the Broncos a tough out. And they’ve been an even tougher out for young opposing quarterbacks.

Older QBs, however, have fared better. Since the start of the 2013 season, the Broncos have lost 18 regular-season games. In 11 of those losses, the quarterback for the opposing team was at least 30 years old.

Of last season’s seven losses, five came to teams with 30-something starters at QB: Alex Smith (twice), Philip RiversMatt Ryan and Tom Brady.

Certainly, you’d expect quarterbacks who are still starting games at age 30 and beyond to be more proficient than their younger peers. They’ve been among the league’s best in many cases, but their success is also a testament to the patience and boldness that have been required to outscore the Peyton Manning-led Broncos or to outlast the post-Manning Broncos.

“I think those experienced guys are tougher because they’ve seen more, they’re harder to fool, you have to win more straight-up one-on-one matchups,” Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “And you have to be ready because the really great quarterbacks can still come after you late in the game. You can’t ever let up because they won’t.”

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DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 17: Von Miller (58) of the Denver Broncos eyeballs Dak Prescott (4) of the Dallas Cowboys shortly before sacking him during the fourth quarter on Sunday, September 17, 2017. The Denver Broncos hosted the Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post)

Broncos defense seeking improvement in “sudden change” situations

On the second play from scrimmage Sunday, Cowboys tight end Noah Brown motioned across the line and put Broncos linebacker Von Miller in his sights.

Brown hit Miller up high at the initial point of contact, but then appeared to drop his body toward Miller’s knee, knocking the stationary linebacker to the ground as nearby Broncos wrapped up a tackle of Ezekiel Elliott.

Miller on Thursday gave his reaction to the hit, which he described as “just baffling.”

“My stance as a player, I’ve always tried to take care of my players on my football team and my opponents as well, whether it’s the quarterback, receivers, running backs,” Miller said. “So when it’s the other way around, it’s just baffling. But you can’t really spend too much time on it. Everybody’s situation in the National Football League is different. Everybody doesn’t have the same outlook I have and that my other comrades in the National Football League (have). Everybody doesn’t see it that way. Everybody doesn’t play the game like I play the game, and you have to respect that.”

Miller was listed as limited at practice with a knee injury Wednesday, but he was a full participant Thursday. The other Broncos who were limited Wednesday — tight end Jeff Heuerman (shoulder), safety Darian Stewart(groin) and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) — also returned to full participation Thursday.

“I feel pretty good,” he said. “You’re going to have to fight through some injuries. Everybody’s gonna have to fight through them.”

“Blade of grass” mentality. “Sudden change” hasn’t been kind to Broncos this season, despite their 2-0 start.

Denver has turned the ball over four times and their opponents have scored touchdowns following each of those takeaways. Opponents began each of the post-turnover drives in Denver territory, but Broncos coaches and players said that’s no excuse.

“We have to make sure when we go on the field that we’re mentally ready,” defensive coordinator Joe Woods said. “We know we’re going to be in a situation where they’re in scoring range. That’s what happened to us those first two games. I told those guys we have to have a blade-of-grass mentality. As long as there is a blade of grass (between the opponent and the end zone) and we’re on defense, we have to stop them.”

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