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Broncos' loss to Chargers keyed defensive turnaround

NEWARK, N.J. -- To hear the Denver Broncos tell it, the key to their defensive turnaround was the Week 15 upset loss to the San Diego Chargers.

Veteran defensive end Shaun Phillips labeled it a "humbling experience" that would be beneficial because the Broncos understood they simply "got outworked."

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Pass rusher Von Miller's season-ending knee injury spurred a change toward team defense, helping Phillips understand "it takes 11 of us playing football all at once -- not just one guy."

Phillips' comments echo those of defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, who said Monday that he brought the team together in the locker room after falling to the underdog Chargers.

"I think it humbled us. It showed us what playoff football was going to be like," Knighton explained. "San Diego was fighting for its season the last five weeks and they were playing playoff football since November. So we had to get into that mode a lot earlier than we thought we did."

Denver's previously beleaguered defense is peaking at the right time, playing with more energy as a cohesive unit. The Broncos might not possess the difference-making talent to control the game like their Super Bowl counterparts, but that is offset by Peyton Manning's record-breaking offense.

"Our offense has been rolling all season and we just want to play complementary football," Knighton continued. "We want to do our part, get three-and-outs and get off the field."

The Broncos have accomplished that goal against better offenses than Seattle's over the past two weeks.

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