- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 21, 2016

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - The Denver Broncos have many regrets from their 30-27 overtime loss to Kansas City last month. Going for a 62-yard field goal isn’t one of them.

Dropped passes. Muffed punts. Fifteen flags. Surrendering an eight-point lead in the closing seconds of regulation. These are the things that sting from that cold November night.

“Yeah, it was tough,” coach Gary Kubiak said Wednesday. “We kind of lost the game about three different times.”

Kubiak figured he would have lost his locker room had he essentially conceded the tie by pinning the Chiefs back with a punt as the Broncos faced fourth-and-10 from the Kansas City 44 with a minute left in overtime.

So, he sent in Brandon McManus instead, and his miss set up a short field for the Chiefs to win it as time expired - on a banked field goal , no less.

Kubiak’s players had his back and so did his boss, John Elway, who tweeted, “We’re in this game to WIN.”

That tie would look pretty good right about now, though.

“But we’re still behind him, regardless,” linebacker Brandon Marshall said. “We all want to play for the win and I understand a tie would look better than a loss. But we’ve got Gary’s back, man. We love him. We appreciate his passion, how he takes chances. And, look, in the moment we’re all saying, ‘Go for it. Let’s win this game. B-Mac has a huge leg.’”

Pass rusher Shaq Barrett said watching that first K.C. game on film this week was painful because of all the missed opportunities, but he isn’t second-guessing Kubiak’s call, either.

“I appreciate still that we went for the win,” Barrett said, “because I have 100 percent faith in B-Mac. He always makes that kick. Coach had faith in him, too, and I’m pretty sure if we had the opportunity to do it again, he would send him back out there again and B-Mac is going to make it.

“But Coach also let us know that he had faith in the defense, that we were going to go out there and hold them, even though it was like 15 yards that they had to go. The whole game we held them down.”

Before allowing the Chiefs’ 75-yard touchdown drive to tie it at the end of regulation, Denver’s defense had limited Alex Smith to an average of just 12 yards on Kansas City’s previous dozen drives.

Despite being at peace with the kick-or-punt decision, the Broncos (8-6) haven’t gotten over that crushing defeat, dropping two of three games since and now they’re teetering on playoff elimination a year after winning it all.

Their five-year run as AFC West champions is over and just to get into the playoffs as a wild card they’ll have to win the rematch Sunday night in Kansas City - where they’re 3-16 in December - then beat Oakland on New Year’s Day in Denver and hope for some help.

Already, the locker room erupted when left tackle Russell Okung tried to address the team following Denver’s 16-3 loss to New England last weekend and cornerback Aqib Talib shouted him down.

After throttling Tom Brady to no avail , Denver’s second-ranked defense didn’t want to hear from a member of the anemic O-line that has failed all season to keep Trevor Siemian upright or bore holes for Denver’s dismal ground game.

They cleared the air Monday, however, and all appeared calm in the Broncos locker room this week.

“We’re all in this together,” safety Darian Stewart said. “We’ve got to stay together in order to get this thing done. I haven’t met one family that doesn’t argue.”

Talib said too much was made of the postgame spat .

“I argue with my mother and she still makes me breakfast,” Talib said. “It’s part of football. It wasn’t even like an argument.”

Talib said he and Okung went to cornerback Chris Harris Jr.’s charity event Monday night “and we had some good laughs and had a great night.”

Talib suggested the passion can actually galvanize a team, saying he and safety T.J. Ward “argue every Wednesday and Thursday to get our game plan right.” He added this sort of thing happened during Denver’s Super Bowl run a year ago, too.

Notes: Kubiak said it appears RB C.J. Anderson, who tore his left meniscus on Oct. 24 in a game against Houston, won’t play again until next season. He’s expected to start running in two weeks.


For more NFL coverage: https://www.pro32.ap.org and https://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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