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Fox stands by decision, Elway supports his coach

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Fox stands by decision, Elway supports his coach

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) John Fox would tell Peyton Manning to take the knee again.

John Elway, of all people, agreed with that call.

Given the ball at his 20 with 31 seconds, two timeouts and one of the best quarterbacks in the game, the Broncos coach decided to run out the clock and head to overtime.

Result: Baltimore 38, Denver 35. End of season in Broncoland.

Fox said he felt good about the decision when he made it Saturday, toward the end of one of the most disheartening losses in the franchise's history. After hashing it over during the last two sleepless nights, he stood by his decision.

``I'd do it again 10 times if it presented itself in that situation,'' he said Monday at Denver's season-ending news conference, where he was joined by Elway, the quarterback-turned-front office executive.

Even 48 hours after the game, that single decision remained the most hotly debated of the many Fox, Manning and the Broncos made in their gaffe-filled loss to the Ravens. The second-guessing only got more intense Sunday after Atlanta moved the ball 41 yards in 12 seconds to set up the game-winning field goal in its 30-28 victory over Seattle.

But, Fox said, Denver's situation was nowhere near what the Falcons faced. The Falcons were losing and had no other choice. They were playing in a dome. The Broncos had just given up a game-tying 70-yard touchdown pass and were standing on the sideline in disbelief. The temperature was below 10 degrees. Manning had thrown the ball downfield a grand total of twice the entire game.

``You watch a (70)-yard bomb go over your head, there's a certain amount of shock value,'' Fox said. ``A little bit like a prize fighter who gets a right cross on the chin at the end of a round, you're looking to get out of the round.''

Elway, of course, built his career around extracting the Broncos from impossible situations. But asked specifically how he would've responded in his playing days if told to take a knee under those circumstances, he sounded not at all like the go-for-broke quarterback he once was.

``I thought it was the right thing at that time,'' Elway said. ``I think with where the team was mentally and the situation we were in, I thought that it was a good move.''

Though the Broncos recovered and stopped Baltimore twice in the overtime, eventually Manning threw an interception that set up the Ravens for the winning field goal. It was a sudden, shocking end to a season that had Super Bowl written all over it. Instead, this year is drawing more comparisons to 1996, when the Broncos also were 13-3, also were top seeds and also lost by three points in the divisional round - to Jacksonville instead of Baltimore.

At the time, Elway was 36 and still searching for his first Super Bowl title. He won the next two.

Currently, Manning is 36 and stuck on one Super Bowl title. He signed with the Broncos last offseason to win a few more.

``I think having been through this before, and having been disappointed before, I realized that this was a possibility,'' Elway said. ``The bottom line is how we learn from this situation. If we get defensive and don't look at everything we did in this game and try to learn from it, then there is a chance we can experience it again. Hopefully, we're back in this situation again and we will have looked at it the right way and learned from the situation.''

While Fox conceded there were coaching mistakes in the game - most notably not having safety Rahim Moore coached up well enough to properly defend the pass that tied the game - he stood by his two most important strategic decisions.

A few minutes before kneeling on the ball, Denver was up by seven and trying to grind out the clock. Despite being down to their third-string running back, 188-pound Ronnie Hillman, the Broncos called three straight running plays, including a run off right guard on third-and-7 that went for no gain. That ran the clock down to 1:15 and made Baltimore burn all its timeouts.

But three plays after a punt, Joe Flacco threw the improbable 70-yard touchdown over Rahim Moore and into the hands of Jacoby Jones that tied the game.

``I've never believed in, `It's one guy, one play,''' Fox said when asked about Moore's role in the loss. ``It obviously was a big play.''

Fox said he played the percentages on all the calls - nothing more, nothing less.

According to his calculations:

-There's a 38 to 40 percent chance of converting a third-and-7 into a first down.

-By punting and giving Baltimore the ball on its 23-yard line, trailing by a touchdown with 1:09 left and no timeouts, the Broncos had a 97 percent chance of winning.

-That percentage spiked to 99.9 percent when the Ravens had the ball on the 30 with 41 seconds left.

Turned out, the Broncos are a ``.1 percenter.''

``I mean this in all sincerity, if I felt like we were going to give up a 70-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds to go, we might have re-evaluated that,'' Fox said. ``But that's not what the percentages said.''

Notes: Elway said the Broncos intend to pick up the option on Manning for the next two years, which would pay him $40 million for two seasons. Manning still has to pass a physical later this winter to get the money. Elway also said the Broncos would like to bring free agent LT Ryan Clady back. ... By losing, the Broncos coaching staff gets assigned to coach the AFC in the Pro Bowl, the week before the Super Bowl. Manning said he will play in the game, as well.

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Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

The NFL announced today that tight end Darren Waller of the Baltimore Ravens would be suspended for a year or longer for his second violation of the substance abuse policy.

Waller was a 2015 sixth-round pick out of Georgia Tech who served a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season for a substance abuse violation. After returning from his suspension last year, he posted 10 catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns in a limited role.

After his 2016 violation, he was quoted as saying [via Ravens.com]:

“There were other personal issues, and [marijuana] was the one thing I always turned to,” Waller said. “It was just about finding more positive outlets for me to do, like talking to people about it and things like that. I’m definitely at a better place with that now.”

Unfortunately for the Ravens, he will miss the 2017 season and potentially longer after the latest violation. It leaves the Ravens down two tight ends from last year after Dennis Pitta was released earlier this month after re-injuring his hip.

MORE RAVENS: Zach Orr considering coming out of retirement

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Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

In January of 2017, former Ravens linebacker Zach Orr took the podium at the team's training facility alongside head coach John Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome and defensive coordinator Dean Pees, to announce he would be retiring from football at the age of 24.

Why? Orr suffered a shoulder injury during their week 16 game against longtime rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, which shed light into a condition he's had since birth.

He had a routine MRI, but the Ravens training staff suggested a full body CAT scan as well. The CAT scan reveled Orr had a congenital back/spine condition where one of the upper vertebra isn't totally formed causing there to be an opening. Less than 1 percent of people are born with such a condition and he wasn't aware of it until he suffered this injury.

Doctors told Orr he was at risk of paralysis or even death if he played with such a condition. He also would have never been able to pass an NFL physical, ultimately forcing him to retire.

During his press conference, Orr said this,

"If there's some miracle way where I can play the game, I promise I'd be the first one to grab my cleats again, start back training and try to find a way to get back out there," Orr said.

Well, fast forward to today and it seems that miracle may have happened.

NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo told Good Morning Football that after getting a second opinion from doctors, and receiving positive news, Orr is considering a return to the NFL.

"I had my mind made up. I was like man, the doctors told me I was done. This is a serious issue. So I'm going to leave it alone. But I just kept hearing that from multiple people and some were telling me to just go check out and seek out some more opinions and things like that and come to find out my condition, it is rare – .01 percent of the people have what I have – but there's no actual evidence or facts that I'm at a higher risk than any other player. And it's actually been documented that a college player who had the exact same thing that I have that returned to play with no problems."

The doctors' real concerns would be if someone with Orr's spinal condition played with a herniated disk. He did suffer from herniated disks last season, but that injury has since diminished. 

MORE RAVENS: 2017 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

If Orr does decide to get back into the NFL, getting signed could be pretty easy. 

When he announced his retirement, he never filed for retirement papers and the Ravens never placed him on their reserve/retired list because they never thought he would play again.

Because of this, Orr is considered an unrestricted free agent and can sign with a team right away. 

Orr had his best season in 2016, where he lead the Ravens in tackles with 133. It's been reported that eight teams have reached out to the linebacker since his announcement and that he will be meeting with the Lions on Thursday.