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T.J. Ward: Broncos D 'too lax' in late-game situations

If not for a blocked extra point two weeks ago, the Denver Broncos could be in the midst of a three-game losing streak, staring up at the playoffs behind a flock of AFC squads. As it is, last week's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs underscored the need to refocus on closing out games.

The past two weeks Denver's menacing defense has allowed scores in the final minutes of regulation.

"We have to be more focused. We're too lax in those situations. We expect someone to make the play, but we have to expect ourselves to make the play first," safety T.J. Ward said, via the Denver Post. "It's not last year's team, so don't compare us to last year."

Sunday's loss to Kansas City came after taking an eight-point lead with 3:00 left on the clock. The vaunted Broncos D allowed Alex Smith to pick his way for a 13-play drive to earn the game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion.

Some blamed the lax, prevent defense for the late-game struggles, but players roundly said they simply have to perform up to their standards.

"If you give us an eight-point lead, I would bet my game check that no one would score on us, so I would have been in debt right now," Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib said, laughing. "I'm going to bet it every time. So we put that (loss to the Chiefs) on us."

Besides Talib's game check being gone (if gambling were allowed), the aura of the Broncos' shutdown defense is slowing being siphoned.

"You just assume that everybody is going to do their job," said defensive end Derek Wolfe. "This defense puts everybody in position to make plays. You assume that person is going to be that position at the right time to make that play. That didn't happen right there at the end."

With five games to play, the Broncos sit No. 7 in the AFC, currently out of the playoffs. If the defending Super Bowl champs are to repeat, the defense will need to lock down games down the stretch.

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