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  • #16
    For easy and quick reading

    Nice for them to be recognized.

    Bailey, Wilson lead the Broncos defense
    EDDIE PELLSAssociated PressDENVER -
    Champ Bailey's most difficult season turned out to be his best. Al Wilson's years of strong, steady leadership finally helped him earn one of the NFL's most prestigious awards.

    The Denver Broncos were dominant on defense this season and have two Associated Press All-Pros to prove it.

    "It's a great accomplishment," Wilson said Monday, when told about the first All-Pro honor of his seven-year career. "But our goal is to win the Super Bowl and we know we have a hard task in front of us this week."

    Still, there is a reason Denver will be hosting its first playoff game since 1998, Saturday against New England, and a lot of it has to do with defense.

    Coach Mike Shanahan has made major changes on that side of the ball in the last two offseasons.

    Two years ago, the Broncos went out and got Bailey and John Lynch. Then, last offseason, they focused on the pass rush, getting Gerard Warren, Courtney Brown, Ebenezer Ekuban and linebacker Ian Gold, among others. Only three regular starters from 2003 remain in this season's starting lineup.

    And though the sack numbers are down - Denver finished with only 28 this season - pressure on quarterbacks is up. It allows players such as Wilson and Bailey to take advantage.

    "A combination of many things," defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said when asked to explain the improvement. "This group plays together. We learned from past errors."

    The Broncos actually fell from fourth to 15th in yards allowed, but that doesn't tell the entire story. They forced 36 turnovers, fourth-most in the league, after two straight seasons of ranking near the bottom. The defense scored three touchdowns, recorded one safety and allowed the third-fewest points in the league.

    Put simply, they're making more plays this season and that's why they finished 13-3.

    "All of this is a combination of having a good pass rush, having good coverage and playing together," Coyer said.

    Wilson said there's a higher maturity level on the team than in years past. Warren and Brown are veterans, former Browns first-round draft picks who finally got into a setting where they could win. Gold, who plays to one side of Wilson, is a veteran. D.J. Williams, who plays to Wilson's other side, has a year of experience under his belt. Lynch. Ekuban. Trevor Pryce. All have been around a while.

    "The guys we brought in were veteran guys who know how to play the game and know how to win," Wilson said. "To have the opportunity to get those guys, it solidified our defense up front. That's as big a boost for this defense as we could have gotten."

    Wilson's stats are not eye-popping. His 90 tackles this season were his lowest total since his rookie year in 1999. But being a leader on a good defense, on a 13-3 team, has its rewards, and even Wilson acknowledges it is something of a team award.

    "It says a lot about what we do as a unit," Wilson said.

    On the other hand, Bailey used to be judged more on the fear factor he put into opposing offenses rather than the number of big plays he made. He didn't get many interceptions, mainly because teams didn't throw his way.

    That didn't change too much this season, but Bailey took advantage of almost every opportunity. His eight interceptions were a career high, third-most in the NFL. At one point, he had a pick in five straight games. Many think he saved Denver's season in Week 2, with an interception for a touchdown that sparked a second-half comeback against San Diego with the Broncos staggering and in danger of falling to 0-2.

    "I love to make plays," Bailey said. "It feels good when I feel like I'm doing more for this team. It's hard to get picks in this league, and when you start racking them up, it really feels good."

    This is Bailey's second straight All-Pro honor. Funny how his best performance came during a season in which he consistently dealt with injuries - to his hamstring and shoulder - from the start of training camp all the way through the playoffs.

    "It wasn't easy, but I just feel like I still bounce back pretty good," said Bailey, like Wilson in his seventh NFL season. "It's an honor to win that award."
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    • #17
      I got snubbed, man.

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      • #18
        Bailey is the Man
        Ask me about My Jesus and how to have a relationship with Him.

        Red Sox Mafia RLF4 Life! Boston 617 Strong!
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