Broncos hope to avoid late-season swoon

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The Denver Broncos usually even-tempered Champ Bailey admonished his team after an aggravating performance against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Denver's Champ Bailey (left) said the Broncos "need to get better" after Sunday's loss to New England. The 41-23 setback cut Denver's AFC West lead to one game.  RICK WILKING/REUTERS
Denver's Champ Bailey (left) said the Broncos "need to get better" after Sunday's loss to New England. The 41-23 setback cut Denver's AFC West lead to one game.

The former Georgia star’s rebuke was out of frustration and maybe a twinge of fear.

After all, Bailey certainly doesn’t want to experience yet another late-season collapse.

The Denver Broncos are not only chasing their first playoff spot in six seasons, but also fighting recent history.

For the third time in four years, the team has taken an 8-5 record into the final three weeks of the season. Twice before, the Broncos failed to make the postseason.

Now, the Broncos (8-6) are trying to avoid another December nosedive after a 41-23 loss to the Patriots on Sunday. They’re just a game up on the Oakland Raiders and the suddenly surging San Diego Chargers in the AFC West.

There’s little margin for error anymore.

That’s why Bailey, who’s been around for both downfalls, exhorted his team after Brady carved up a patchwork secondary that was missing the leadership of Brian Dawkins, throwing for 320 yards.

“We need to concentrate on getting better,” Bailey said Sunday.

BEARS: Johnny Knox faces at least four months of recovery following back surgery Monday.

He was placed on injured reserve and will miss the rest of the season.

Knox was taken from the field on a cart early in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Seattle Seahawks and had surgery a day later to stabilize a vetebra in his lower to mid back.

BROWNS: Quarterback Colt McCoy has improved from his concussion.

However, his status for this week, the rest of the season – and beyond – remains blurred.

Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Monday that McCoy has not been medically cleared to practice or play.

No decision has been made on who will start at quarterback Saturday when Cleveland visits the Baltimore Ravens.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Jordan Norwood sustained a concussion on Sunday, at least the 11th reported head injury for Cleveland this season.

Norwood had three catches for 21 yards during the Browns’ 20-17 overtime loss to Arizona.

PACKERS: Right tackle Bryan Bulaga may be unable to play this week because of a sprained left knee, and backup offensive lineman Derek Sherrod is recovering from surgery on his broken right leg.

BUCCANEERS: Cornerback Aqib Talib has been placed on injured reserve with a sore right hamstring that sidelined him much of the past three games.

The team announced the move Monday, two days after Talib was able to play only one series during a 31-15 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Defensive tackle Jovan Haye was signed to fill the opening.

LIONS: Harley Sewell, a Detroit offensive lineman during the championship sea 1950s, has died. He was 80.

The team said Monday that Sewell died Saturday after an extended illness. He played 10 seasons with the Lions, one with the Rams and was a scout for the Rams for 37 seasons.

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