ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Vic Fangio didn’t witness the offensive disaster on the other field.
The Broncos head coach only has two eyes and he knows defense, first, so he stayed with his defensive units Friday during the controlled practice scrimmages with the San Francisco 49ers.
It wasn’t until later Friday when Fangio saw the tape of how his Broncos’ offense performed against the 49ers’ defense that he was able to pass judgment.
"It wasn’t very good," Fangio said Saturday. "You know it was … it wasn’t very good."
Fangio had told his offense as much during an offense-defense meeting Friday night.
"We talked about it," Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay said in a sit-down interview with 9News on Saturday. "Coach Fangio, he doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He pretty much told us if this was a real game we would have scored 3 points. And we can’t do that. This year we can’t leave our defense out to dry."
When a group of competitive athletes get beat up one day, you can predict what’s going to happen the next. The Broncos offense literally fought back against the 49ers defense Saturday. Even the quarterback, Joe Flacco, got in the middle of a brawl.
"Today we responded," Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders said in his interview with 9News. "We pounded those guys today. It felt good."
On Friday, the San Francisco defense dominated the Broncos’ offense, especially in the trenches. But not only up front. Flacco, the Broncos’ quarterback, did not have a good day, nor, by his own admission, did Lindsay, who fumbled once and dropped two passes – once bobbling into the hands of a defender for an interception.
"We’re going in there with a new offense and I think we went into it that this was going to be a practice," Lindsay said. "They came into it as game time. And they shocked us a little bit. But in a fight you’ve got all kinds of rounds. We didn’t get knocked down but we got stung a little bit. But we came back and regrouped and you see us out there today?"
Lindsay was determined Saturday, starting with his customary pre-practice sprint on the field, and had several nice runs and catch-and-runs.
"Yesterday, I feel like I had one of my worst days of practice," Lindsay said. "I don’t like feeling like that. For me I’ve got to start it off right. I don’t think I stretched – I was late doing my stretch yesterday. So everything I can think of I’ll do. Even running out there, I don’t think I ran out there like I wanted. Today I came out with a better mindset about things."
Flacco threw a perfect deep ball down the right sideline that enabled Courtland Sutton to outmaneuver cornerback Richard Sherman for the ball.
Through it all Saturday was a buildup to a scuffle. It started with Broncos running backs Royce Freeman and Lindsay absorbing a little more forceful shoves from defenders on back-to-back plays.
There was some jawing after the shoves. Then a couple of second-string Broncos offensive linemen and 49ers defensive linemen engaged in a push-n-shove showdown.
Finally, came an all-players-in brawl between the Broncos offense and San Francisco defense. For their involvement, backup tight end Bug Howard and receiver Brendan Langley got booted off the field and into the locker room for the rest of practice by an unknown Broncos’ assistant coach.
"I wasn’t there so I don’t know the details but I instructed the coaches that if something happened extracurricular that they deemed needed to be removed from the field, do it," Fangio said.
By all-players-in, we mean all players in. Lindsay and Sanders got in the middle of it. So did Flacco.
"I saw three guys on Joe," Sanders said. "Because Joe kind of jumped in and I saw three guys on him and I was like, ‘All right, let me hop in a little bit.’ But it wasn’t nothing serious. It was more, ‘Hey, break it up, break it up.'"
And so after getting whipped Friday, the Broncos fought back Saturday. The two teams meet a third time Monday night with a preseason game at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
"If you want to say how that all figured out with San Fran and us -- they won the first day," Sanders said with a smile. "We won the second day and we got a game on Monday for the championship, see who wins."
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