Bailey: Broncos have closed gap with Pats
ENGLEWOOD, COLO. (AP)
giving up 86 points to the Patriots last year, the Denver Broncos
realized just how far away they were from becoming a championship
Following the Broncos' 45-10 loss at New England in
the playoffs, coach John Fox pledged, ''We will do everything we can to
And they did.
They swapped Tim Tebow for
Peyton Manning, retooled the offense and fortified their defense.
They'll get to gauge just how much they've narrowed that gap Sunday
when they visit Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Champ Bailey insists
the gulf hasn't just been narrowed but closed entirely, suggesting the
Broncos ''know we can win'' this time, something he's not so sure they
believed nine months ago.
''I didn't feel like there were 53 guys that thought we could win,''
Bailey said. ''And it showed.''
wouldn't name names, instead saying the Broncos (2-2) are simply better
equipped and better prepared to keep up with the Patriots (2-2) this
''Couple of different players here and there.
Different coordinator. Different mentality,'' Bailey said. ''But I
think last year, it was pretty obvious we didn't put our best effort in
that last game. It was real disappointing to get that far and not put
forth 100 percent. But it is what it is, it's in the past, and this is
a different year, different breed of guys going in there.''
right guard Chris Kuper ready to return from a broken left forearm,
middle linebacker Joe Mays back from a one-game suspension for an
illegal hit, and second-year tight end Virgil Green's month-long
suspension for violating the league's banned-substances policy over,
the Broncos are as invigorated as they've been all season.
They had perfect attendance at practice this week for the first time.
they have a healthy confidence, too, insisting they can keep up with
the high-powered Patriots after losing to them 41-23 on Dec. 18, ending
a six-game winning streak, and by five touchdowns in the divisional
playoffs in January.
''I think we have better personnel and we have a better scheme,'' Mays
said. ''We just have to go out there and execute.''
something they didn't do well last year, when Denver's offense had
eight three-and-outs, four four-and-outs and lost a fumble on the first
play of another drive in two blowout losses to New England.
Now, they have Manning running the show.
''Oh, we can put up points,'' running back Willis McGahee boasted.
''There's no doubt about it.''
about the firepower the Broncos bring to Foxborough this time around,
McGahee borrowed a phrase from the New York Jets' loquacious linebacker
Bart Scott that punctuated a postgame rant following a playoff victory
over New England a couple of years ago.
''I like the firepower
regardless of this year or last year, but yep, this year is a little
bit better,'' McGahee said. ''Looking forward to it. Can't wait. In
Bart Scott words, `Can't wait!' ''
With Tebow, the Broncos ran the read-option that proved no match for
Brady's precision passing game.
think like last year we went into the game, run first, worry about the
pass later,'' McGahee said. ''This year we can do both. So, the sky's
the limit. It's not like we're going to be cornered in one position,
just run the ball, run the ball, you know? We're going to be able to
get some passes off, we're going to be able to get some runs off.''
arrival alone made both the Broncos' offense and defense better. With
his ability to produce long drives, Denver's defense hasn't been as
gassed as it was with the offense going three-and-out so often like it
did under Tebow.
That could make a big difference Sunday.
it's going to be great,'' Mays said. ''What our offense brings is going
to be great to keep us off the field a little bit, because while we're
out there, it's going to be hard work. We're going against one of the
best quarterbacks in the game, and it's going to be a tough one for us.
I'm looking forward to going out there and having a much better outcome
than we did two times last year.''
Notes: Broncos FB Chris Gronkowski had no advice this week for his teammates who will be facing
his brother, Patriots All-Pro TE Rob Gronkowski: ''They've seen the
film. They played him last year, so they should have a good idea. I
don't have to go against him, so I don't really know.''