ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – The Denver Broncos put up 51 points on Dallas, the same amount the Jacksonville Jaguars have managed to score all season.
When the Broncos pointed that out on their official Twitter account Monday morning, the Jaguars retweeted it with this retort: “Stay classy, Denver.”
“Not shots,” came the reply from the Broncos account, “just stats.”
Coach John Fox didn’t like all that chirping with the Broncos (5-0) set to host the Jaguars (0-5) in what oddsmakers consider the biggest mismatch in NFL history.
“Well, it’s not really my lane,” Fox said when asked about the Twitter tussle, “but it’s been dealt with and we’ll leave it at that.”
Even with Denver installed as an unprecedented 28-point favorite, the Broncos insist they’re not about to take the Jaguars lightly.
“No, I don’t look at point spreads,” Fox said. “We look at the tape. One thing I’ve learned is if you fall asleep at the wheel, you wreck.”
Overconfidence. Complacency. Satisfaction.
Not around here.
“No, I think in general, in life, you’re dealing with either adversity or prosperity,” Fox said. “Sometimes dealing with prosperity is more difficult than the adversity. Our guys understand that. They understand it’s more about the process than the results. They understand it’s more about the preparation work which will relate to the performance. All that other stuff, they don’t really pay attention to.”
The Broncos may be unbeaten but they have their share of concerns, on defense at least.
Lost in their sensational start, Peyton Manning’s historic 20-to-1 TD-to-interception ratio and a record 230 points so far is this undeniable fact: they sorely miss All-Pro middle linebacker Von Miller, who has a week left on his six-game drug suspension, and perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey, who’s been out with a foot injury since mid-August.
Without Bailey locking down receivers and minus Miller knifing his way through the line to pester the quarterback, the Broncos rank dead last in the league against the pass.
They’re No. 1 against the run, but remember, teams are abandoning their ground game early to try to match Manning’s magnificence.
Overall, Denver’s defense ranks 29th.
The Broncos surrendered 506 yards and five TDs to Tony Romo and had to forgo a final touchdown to keep the ball out of his hands in the final minute, setting up instead for Matt Prater’s last-second field goal for a 51-48 win.
The Broncos saw three more defensive starters go out with injuries in Dallas: cornerback Chris Harris (concussion), end Robert Ayers (right shoulder) and middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard (neck).
Woodyard makes all the calls in aligning and adjusting Denver’s defense, and when he went out, instead of another blowout, the Broncos had a shootout on their hands.
“I think at the end of the day, there was no doubt we were short five guys,” said Fox, who characterized the new injuries as “nothing serious.”
The Broncos dodged a calamitous injury when Manning – who has had four neck operations – bounced right back after Cowboys defensive end George Selvie spun him down by his face mask.
“When a guy goes down hard, I hold my breath,” Fox said. “So, I was happy to see that he was fine.”
After blowing out everybody in September, the Broncos view their escape in Dallas as a sign that they can come back on the road and win a close game.
“It tests your mettle,” Fox said. “I think it’s a good spot to be in. … I think it’s a good test and I thought it was a good character win for us this early in the season.”
There were also enough bad plays to correct and keep their heads out of the clouds.
“It’s going to happen. No team is invincible,” safety Rahim Moore said. “It was ugly. It’s the NFL. It’s hard to win in this league and it’s hard to deal with a loss. But we found some resiliency.”
– By Arnie Stapleton, AP Sports Writer
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