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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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Keenan Questions?: 5 observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp

Keenan Questions?: 5 observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Five observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp on Saturday, the first practice with players wearing pads:

1. Running back Terrance West looks slimmer, quicker, and impressive both running and pass catching.

West had another strong day of practice, and got plenty of reps with both Kenneth Dixon (knee) and Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) still out. Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, and Dixon are considered locks to make the 53-man roster. But West, a former Towson star and Baltimore product, could finally be realizing his potential after disappointing stops with the Browns and Titans. West could force the Ravens to keep four running backs, in addition to fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

2. Keenan Reynolds needs to step up his performance at wide receiver.

A host of wide receivers are performing better than Reynolds, who is trying to transition from Navy quarterback to NFL wide receiver. Reynolds had a couple of drops the first three days of practice, and has been unable to get open consistently. Meanwhile, wide receiver Chris Matthews had another strong day, as did Michael Campanaro. Reynolds can help the Ravens as a returner, but they have other players who can fill that role. For Reynolds to secure a roster spot, he needs to show he can help the Ravens as a receiver. Otherwise, the Ravens will face a difficult decision regarding Reynolds, a local fan favorite.

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3. The way Kamalei Correa and Zach Orr are performing, the Ravens may not need to sign a veteran inside linebacker.

Correa had a sparkling one-handed interception Saturday, showing his hands and athleticism. Orr has been reading plays quickly and keeping himself around the football. Even if Correa wins the job at inside linebacker next to C. J. Mosley, there could be reps for Orr as well, giving the Ravens a promising young combo.

4. Saturday was not a crisp day for the offense.

The defense was the better unit, as the offense looked sloppy at times. There were a couple of bad snaps out of the shotgun from center Jeremy Zuttah, and a few false starts from the offensive line. There is plenty of time for cleanup before Week 1, but it’s not what the coaches want to see.

5. QB Joe Flacco and TE Dennis Pitta continued to look good.

Saturday made three straight days of practice for Flacco with no noticeable limping or discomfort. Flacco may be wearing a red jersey, but there have been no red flags regarding his surgically-repaired knee. Meanwhile, Pitta took a solid hit from Orr while attempting to make a catch, but Pitta jumped right to his feet. This was another good day for Pitta in his comeback from his second major hip injury.

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DT Jernigan leaves practice early, WR Moore does not practice

DT Jernigan leaves practice early, WR Moore does not practice

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan left Saturday’s practice early, while rookie wide receiver Chris Moore did not practice.  Coach John Harbaugh did not meet with the media after practice, and no reason was immediately given for either absence. ESPN reported that Jernigan suffered a minor rib area strain that was not considered serious.

Cornerback Jerraud Powers took the field for this first training camp practice, after finally passing the conditioning test. Powers was the lone player remaining who had not passed the test.

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In addition to the five players on the PUP list, tight end Crockett Gillmore (hamstring) and running back Kenneth Dixon (knee) did not practice.

In a roster move, the Ravens signed punter Michael Palardy to fill their open roster spot. Sam Koch, a Pro Bowl selection in 2015, is firmly entrenched as the Ravens’ punter. However, Palardy can take practice reps while the Ravens work their punt returners, reducing some of the strain on Koch’s leg.

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Why Yanda knows offensive success hinges on ability to protect Flacco

Why Yanda knows offensive success hinges on ability to protect Flacco

OWINGS MILLS - One of Marshal Yanda’s top priorities is to make sure the offensive line does its best to keep Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco healthy, unlike 2015, when Flacco suffered a season-ending knee injury. Having made five straight Pro Bowls as a right guard, Yanda is beginning his 10th NFL season, and his ninth season with Flacco as his quarterback. Yanda knows that much of the Ravens’ offensive success depends on Flacco staying healthy.

“We haven’t really talked about it specifically,” Yanda said. “But obviously, you know as an offensive line, we talk about it, and you coach it. You’re going to keep your guys as far away from the quarterback as possible. Obviously, there is probably more emphasis this year with the knee.”

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When Flacco sees game action for the first time this season, Yanda doesn’t expect his quarterback to play tentatively due to his knee.

“He’s going to have to make his read,” Yanda said. “We have certain plays where he is going to be on the move, no matter what. We know about it: it is conscious in my mind; it is conscious in the offensive line’s mind and his mind, too. I feel like he just has to play through that. I had a knee (injury) once before, and he just has to get reps and get comfortable with the way it is feeling now. It will always feel a little different. That is just normal. It will continue to get normal as he keeps playing.”