On Monday, the Broncos will practice for the first time as a team since capping a stellar regular season with an epic postseason collapse, thanks to a 70-yard touchdown pass that allowed the Ravens to force overtime.
The throw from Joe Flacco landed in the hands of Jacoby Jones because Denver safety Rahim Moore jumped too soon and flailed clumsily at the ball. After, of course, Moore allowed Jones to run right past the safety.
But the Broncos are still sticking with Moore. From coaches to players, Moore has been absolved of responsibility.
“I think he’s over it; I think we’re all over it, you know,” Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio told the Associated Press. “I think we all look back and see things that we could have done better.”
Linebacker Von Miller take responsibility for not getting to Flacco before he could launch the desperation pass.
“Rahim made a few key tackles that day. He was all over the place. It was just a football folly,” Miller said. “I don’t blame Rahim. I blame me and Elvis [Dumervil]: 70 yards to go, we know they’re going to pass the ball. That’s why they bring me and Elvis to close the game out and neither of us got to the quarterback. I took it hard.”
Coach John Fox and executive V.P. of football operations John Elway both believe that Moore’s better days are in front of him.
“Rahim’s focus is on getting better from a year ago,” Fox said. “And there wasn’t one play. It was a whole season. He made great, great progress a year ago from his rookie year and we anticipate him to do that again. He’s a very talented young man.”
“[H]e made tremendous strides from Year One to Year Two,” executive V.P. of football operations John Elway said. “And I think hopefully he makes those same strides. He really had a good year last year and we want to watch him to continue to grow. Safety-wise, we feel pretty good.”
But not good enough to resist kicking the tires of Charles Woodson.
While there’s no reason for the Broncos to bail on a second-round pick in the 2011 draft, Moore’s ability to forget after having months to stew will be critical to whether he can continue to play at a high level — and to keep getting better.
If he does, last year’s gaffe will become a distant memory. A very bad, awful memory, but distant nonetheless.