Phillips back at work but Denver’s offense is ailing
AP Pro Football Writer
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Wade Phillips returned to work Monday, his sense of humor still intact after a scary fall when San Diego running back Melvin Gordon plowed into him on the sideline Sunday.
“I am ok today and back to work at what I love,” Phillips wrote on Twitter. “I get the big hit award for the week!”
Oh, and about that tumble …
“They say it was a collision on the sideline but actually I got run over,” Denver’s 69-year-old defensive coordinator tweeted.
His defense didn’t.
The reigning Super Bowl champs hit the halfway point at 6-2 even though their offense remains stuck in neutral and managed just two touchdowns in a half-dozen trips inside the red zone in their 27-19 win over San Diego .
The Broncos broke up 13 passes, hit Philip Rivers 17 times and picked off three of his passes even though they were missing two starters in cornerback Aqib Talib and linebacker Brandon Marshall and lost backup cornerback Kayvon Webster to a pulled hamstring Sunday.
After Phillips was carted off the field in the second quarter and taken to a hospital, linebackers coach Reggie Herring took over defensive play calls, sending in signals to backup Corey Nelson, who played 77 of 81 snaps in place of Marshall.
Phillips was released shortly after the game ended and cleared to return to work.
“He’s sitting in the back of the meeting just now, he’s got a big smile on his face,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “He’s sore but he’s feeling good and back at it. I’m trying to get him to go home and rest a little bit today. He didn’t want to do that. But he’s good. He’s himself today.”
Asked for specifics on what happened to Phillips, Kubiak said, “He just got the heck knocked out of him. I saw the play finally late last night. The turnover, the running back was chasing the ball. He ran through the sidelines, kind of caught Wade up high and it looked like the back of his head hit the ground pretty hard. So, you know, just a scary situation right there. But … he was talking to us and responding to us on the field. So, we just feel very fortunate that he’s OK.”
Moving Phillips to the coaches box upstairs didn’t seem to be something the Broncos are seriously considering at this point.
“We’ll see how Wade’s feeling,” Kubiak said. “What I’m seeing today, he’s himself today and the fact he’s battling me today when I’m trying to get him to go home and get some rest makes me know he’s back to his old self.”
Besides, Kubiak said, “there’s a lot of guys down here who can’t move very good. It really is scary sometimes, when you have turnovers, field position change, gunners on punt team, you’ve got to really pay attention and boy, he got caught pretty good. He’s just got to move quicker, I guess.”
Bradley Roby scored on a 49-yard interception return on the play.
Darian Stewart’s interception also led to a touchdown, but the Broncos failed to convert T.J. Ward’s interception into points when rookie running back Devontae Booker fumbled at the 2, one of four failures inside the 20-yard line that kept this one close despite Denver’s defensive dominance.
“We’re not even close to what we need to be,” said Kubiak, whose team has a Sunday night showdown next weekend at Oakland, also 6-2. “We didn’t play well yesterday, but the team still found a way to win. So, that’s a good sign for the football team.”
The Broncos rushed for just 57 yards six days after piling up 190 — but that was with C.J. Anderson, who went on IR after right knee surgery Thursday — and Trevor Siemian completed just 20 of 38 passes with no touchdowns and a pick-6 on a ball that went off Jordan Norwood’s hands.
Siemian responded with completions of 40 and 31 yards on his next two throws, leading to a field goal that made it an 8-point game. Then, after Denver’s goal-line stand, rookie punter Riley Dixon had his best punt of the season, a 68-yarder.
“There was no bigger play that that, kicking the ball out of our end zone,” Kubiak said. “Heck, we had two almost holding calls down there. It was a mess, and the bottom line is we needed the best punt of the year from him and we got it.”
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
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