NFL Wire News

Broncos’ Knighton defends grandiose comments


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Terrance Knighton never said the word “guarantee” in the locker room after the Denver Broncos’ AFC West-clinching win over San Diego.

But he did tell The Denver Post, “It doesn’t matter what happens. At the end of the year, we’re hoisting that (Lombardi) trophy.”

“I don’t care if New England doesn’t lose again. I don’t care where we have to play. I don’t care who our opponent is. We’re not going to be satisfied until we hoist that trophy,” he told The Post. “So if we’ve got to go to New England (in the playoffs) and win somewhere we’re not used to winning, we’re going to make it happen.”

And even though the Broncos and Patriots are unlikely to meet again until the AFC Championship Game, the war of words between the sides was officially under way. A day later, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady told Westwood One radio, “My dad always told me, ‘Well done is better than well said.'”

The Broncos’ opponent Monday night, Cincinnati, is no pushover, leading the AFC North at 9-4-1, and could be in line to face the Broncos in the divisional round if they win their next two games.

But the chatter has centered around Knighton’s comments.

“Some people call it a guarantee, some people call it whatever they want, but anything less than a Super Bowl victory is a disappointing season,” Knighton said. “So I stand by what I said.

“I don’t care who we play, where we have to play. We won’t be satisfied until we’re hoisting that trophy. So if New England wins out and we win out, and we end up meeting them, we’ll have to go there and beat them. It’s that simple.”

Going to New England and winning is what seems to be the white whale for the Broncos, who have lost their last four games at Gillette Stadium since January 2012. Three of the defeats have been by double digits, including a 43-21 thumping on Nov. 2 that helped move the Patriots into the pole position for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

Two weeks after that defeat, the Rams throttled the Broncos 22-7 in what looks more and more like the turning point of the season. The Broncos began running the football more after a 56-10 pass-run ratio in St. Louis. They emphasized drive blocking for their reshuffled offensive line and won the next four games by grinding it out, averaging more points per possession than they did in their first 10 games.

On defense, the Broncos have held three consecutive foes to 17 points or less. Denver gave up 21.7 points in its first 12 games but has surrendered 14.3 points in its last three.

“Teams that win right now and end up winning Super Bowls are teams that can play good defense (with) offenses that can run the ball,” Knighton said. “And right now we’re fulfilling that blueprint.”

–The Broncos’ linebacking corps might finally be at the breaking point.

Brandon Marshall allowed the unit to withstand the persistent absence of weak-side linebacker Danny Trevathan with two injuries to the leg bones around his knee. Steven Johnson stepped up from the special teams and offered stability after middle linebacker Nate Irving succumbed to a torn MCL in Week 9. Safety T.J. Ward stepped up and worked as a nickel linebacker after Irving’s injury, and injected some thump to the defense.

But now that Trevathan has a third, season-ending knee injury (a dislocated kneecap) and Marshall is out for one to two weeks with a foot sprain, the Broncos will likely have to turn to a rookie to play extensive snaps: Corey Nelson, Lamin Barrow or Todd Davis.

Nelson and Barrow had turns in sub-package work at midseason. But the most likely candidate to play extensively is Davis, a Nov. 6 waiver claim from New Orleans who filled in last Sunday when Marshall and Trevathan succumbed to their injuries.

“We don’t have a lot of guys that have played a lot of football, but Todd Davis can come in and make an impact,” Knighton said. “Corey proved that he can come into a game and be an impact. So right now, with the injuries, we’ll work through it.”

Davis’ growth on the practice field has been rapid since his arrival.

“I kind of felt a little bit overwhelmed at times, just because it’s a lot to try to get in, but I’ve got to remind myself that with time, everything gets better and everything works itself out,” he said.

SERIES HISTORY: This is the 28th regular-season meeting between the Broncos and Bengals. The Broncos lead the series, 19-8. Denver has won four straight. The most historic meeting between these two teams was on Oct. 22, 2000, when Corey Dillon ran for a league-record 278 yards in a 31-21 Cincinnati win.

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