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Broncos seek answers after latest loss produces sideline skirmish

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos have shown very little fight during their month of misery -- except on their own sideline.

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall said he's not sorry for berating Knowshon Moreno after the rookie running back fumbled the ball at the goal line during the Broncos' 32-3 loss to the San Diego Chargers.

In fact, he said more of his teammates should have shown some fire Sunday.


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Moreno, who gave Marshall a two-handed shove to get away, said he didn't begrudge his teammate for his outburst because everybody is tired of losing.

"We've got a lot of emotional players on our team. I'm an emotional person myself," Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said following his team's fourth consecutive loss. "Sometimes that happens. I'm not saying it's good, as long as people can work things out. Obviously we don't want to make scenes or problems for ourselves on the sideline. But there are a lot of things that happen on the sideline that involve emotion."

Like McDaniels' pregame trash task with some of San Diego's players.

During warmups, a Chargers linebacker chirped at McDaniels, who retorted that the Broncos "owned" them.

"It's just all fun and games. We didn't look much into it," said Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips, who forced a fumble on Broncos backup quarterback Chris Simms' first drop-back. "As a coach, I hope he has that mind-set, but to say you own us? You beat us one time. How much has he really done in this league? He had a team 6-0 and now he's looking up at us in second place."

McDaniels, 33, took the NFL by storm by winning his first six games, including a 34-23 victory at San Diego on Oct. 19 to put the Broncos 3½ games ahead of the Chargers in the AFC West.

After a bye week, the Broncos entered November without a loss. Now they're in danger of exiting November without a win. They face the New York Giants (6-4) on Thanksgiving night at Invesco Field.

The Broncos' frustrations boiled over not only on the sideline but on the field Sunday, when they were whistled for nine penalties to the Chargers' one.

"We had issues with personal fouls and too much jaw-jacking around," Denver defensive end Vonnie Holliday said. "We lost composure. That's probably what is so disheartening about this loss."

Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton, who relieved Simms during the second quarter despite being injured, said the only way out of this mess is through harder work.

"I'm done feeling the loss," Orton said. " I'm sick of it, and I know everybody else is. It's been a long time since we've won."

Holliday agreed that the Broncos have to fight their way out together -- and not against each other.

"We have to check it now," Holliday suggested. "We have to come down fierce with it and with a hard fist. We're a blue-collar team. We're not filled with 10-12 Pro Bowl guys. The first six games of the season, we won games together, guys going out and putting it on the line. It wasn't always pretty, and it's not going to be pretty. We have to find a way to claw back and get back into the game. Defensively, we have to do that. Guys are passionate, I understand. But you have to be smart about it."

As troublesome as their offensive woes and defensive difficulties are the Broncos' atrocious special teams.

One week after allowing an embarrassing touchdown at Washington on a fake punt that was telegraphed for all to see, the Broncos had two 15-yard penalties in the kicking game Sunday, and Josh Barrett let the ball slip through his arms during a failed onside kick.

During their six-game winning streak, the Broncos outscored their opponents 76-10 after halftime. During their four-game slide, those adjustments are AWOL as the Broncos have been outscored 77-17 in the second half.

"I think everybody needs to look at themselves first," Marshall said. "I'm going to go back and watch film on myself and see what I'm doing wrong, what I changed from last year. How can I help move the ball down the field? Get the ball? I'm going to look at myself first, starting with film from last year, seeing if I changed anything, if my routes aren't the same, if I'm not catching the ball as well. I'm going to start there."

Marshall and his teammates have a short work week to do their self-reflections and make corrections.

"Right now we're in a bad place," Holliday said. "This is an ugly situation for us right now. But we have more games to play, so we have an opportunity to crawl out of this hole we dug for ourselves."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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