ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The typically talkative Aqib Talib has been noticeably quiet all week.
There wasn’t much for the standout cornerback to say after an abysmal performance by a usually dependable Denver Broncos defense. No fingers to point.
For years, Denver’s “D” propped up this team as the offense sputtered. But allowing 51 points and 419 yards in a 51-23 loss at Philadelphia stripped the Broncos of their usual bravado.
Hence, Talib’s hushed demeanor.
“Kind of half-focused, half still (ticked) off,” explained Talib, whose Broncos (3-5) host New England (6-2) on Sunday night.
“We’re human. It’s probably been a long time, but it definitely happened before. We’re human. We’re pros. We’re professional and like I said, you put your head back down and you work, man. You come out and you have a great day.”
As for the swagger of the NFL’s second-ranked defense, well, that’s still very much intact.
“The swag is always there,” said defensive coordinator Joe Woods, whose team allowed a season-high 197 yards rushing along with the first three rushing TDs of the season. “The guys are just frustrated.”
No one more so than outside linebacker Von Miller, who compared giving up that many points to getting “punched in the stomach.”
“It’s one of the biggest losses of my career,” Miller said. “It’s not something you totally forget. I’m sure as a team, as a defense, you forget and stuff like that. But me, being the guy I am, I’m always going to remember that, never want to experience that again, use that to drive me going forward.
“We have high-character guys in the locker room who have fought through adversity before. I wouldn’t replace any of these guys going into the next game.”
The path gets even tougher with Tom Brady on deck. The Patriots have long been a gauge for the Broncos, and this time they’re out to halt a four-game losing streak and salvage their season.
“If we come out on that stage Sunday night and if we’re able to get a win, man, the swag, the energy in this locker room, it’ll sky-rocket,” Talib said. “It’s the perfect game. It’s what we need. Powerhouse, put them in front of us, man, see what we’re going to do.”
Although his defense was shredded by Carson Wentz and the Eagles, coach Vance Joseph isn’t worried about the Broncos’ psyche.
“It’s a confident group. It’s been a dominant group for a long time,” Joseph said. “It’s a group that believes they can play well all the time. It happens. They had a great game plan.
They made some plays on us. We had some unfortunate penalties that led to touchdowns. That’s always an issue, but they’re confident. They want a chance to show it on Sunday.”
Bill Belichick and the Patriots are coming off a bye week and on Thursday they added tight end Martellus Bennett off waivers from Green Bay.
“I just noticed that, man. It’s crazy,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “That’s what the Patriots do — the rich get richer.
“It’s a playoff game. We know we have to win. We know there’s a lot at stake.”
NOTES: DE Derek Wolfe (sore neck) and RB C.J. Anderson (illness) didn’t practice Thursday. C Matt Paradis (back), WR Bennie Fowler (ankle), OT Donald Stephenson (calf), LB Todd Davis (ankle), OG Ron Leary (elbow) and WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis. … Asked why the Broncos hadn’t been able to end their slide by now, Miller responded: “If I had the answers to that, I could coach and play football at the same time.
I’d need two checks.” As it is, Miller is making $16.5 million this season.
By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
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