DENVER (CBS4) – A loss like the one the Broncos experienced on Sunday night can be a turning point for an NFL team. Could it be for this year’s Broncos squad?
“Fifty-two guys learned a lesson,” former Broncos center Tom Nalen said on Xfinity Monday Live in a discussion with CBS4’s Vic Lombardi about the devastating 34-31 loss to New England.
“Do you subscribe to the theory that a loss like that — the way it went down — can help a team a team more than hinder a team when it’s time for the playoffs?” Lombardi asked Nalen.
“I think it depends on the team,” Nalen said. “They could definitely take this loss and learn from their mistakes, learn how to play in the cold, realize that cold weather is going to happen in the playoffs and apply that.”
“I look at it as if it were a punch in the face. They got punched in the face and didn’t know how to react. Now they know how to react next time this happens.”
Nalen said if the Broncos were going to have a loss like this, he’s “so happy” it happened during the regular season.
“Last season it was Baltimore. That’s when they found out what it was like. That’s when they got punched in the face and the season (ended).”
Nalen said there are some positives to take from the game, including Von Miller and Terrance Knighton’s ferocious performance on defense and the offensive line’s great effort.
As far as what went wrong for the Broncos, Nalen said they were running the ball well and towards the end of the game when Knowshon Moreno was starting to wear down they should have played Montee Ball more.
“Ball looked like the best back out there. He had the most explosive burst in his running game and looked like he was very confident,” Nalen said. “By sitting him on the sidelines because he fumbled … I think it hurt the team a little bit and maybe hurt his confidence.”
Another bit of constructive criticism Nalen had for the Broncos was with their special teams play and their punt return blunder in overtime that led to the Patriots getting the ball in Broncos territory.
Nalen said despite what some fans may think, Wes Welker has plenty of experience returning punts and he made a critical mistake.
“He should have either come up and make the fair catch signal since it was a short punt or made the ‘Peter’ call to his teammates to get away much sooner,” Nalen said. “Tony Carter had no chance. By the time Welker made the call Carter was already almost in contact with the ball.”
Nalen also said quarterback Peyton Manning’s body language in the chilly temps at Gillette Stadium might not have sent the best message to his teammates as the Broncos watched their 24-0 lead disappear in the second half.
“Peyton looked cold, miserable. And I think if you’re in the huddle with him you can kind of sense that,” Nalen said.
See more video clips with Broncos Ring of Famer Tom Nalen in the Xfinity Monday Live section.