Perrish Cox did his best Champ Bailey impersonation in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s home opener against the Seahawks.
Bailey picked off a Matt Hasselbeck pass in the red zone on the Seahawks’ first drive of the game, prohibiting a Seattle score and shifting the momentum of the game to his team. Cox intercepted Hasselbeck with less than two minutes remaining in the game, allowing Kyle Orton to kneel the ball three straight times to finish the fourth quarter.
“Getting an interception in the second game of the season — that’s a great feeling,” Cox said. “It takes a lot off your back and you can play more comfortably.”
The rookie wasn’t quite as comfortable when Andre’ Goodman came out of the game and Cox heard the coaches calling for him to get on the field.
“They kind of threw me out there,” he said. “I grabbed my helmet, and (Seattle) went at me on the first play.”
Mike Williams caught a 7-yard pass, and Cox brought him down for his only tackle of the game. Thinking back on the play, Cox isn’t surprised Hasselbeck went right at him.
“You see somebody — a nine-year veteran — run off the field and you see a first-year come in, of course they’re coming,” he said.
The rookie cornerback’s ability to adapt to the speed of the game resulted in his first NFL pick in the second game of his career.
The team has been grooming Cox for a regular-season role since OTA’s, when they first mixed the fifth-round pick in with the starting defense – something the rookie said “helped a lot.”
Whenever he ran with the ones, Cox knew he had a mentor either in the huddle or on the sideline to help him out. Bailey served as the young cornerback’s safety net whenever he needed help understanding the scheme.
“I ask him a lot of the small things that people don’t see on the field,” Cox said.
Having Bailey reassuring his knowledge of the defense amplifies Cox’s confidence, so playing up to the big stage isn’t an issue.
“You’re not nervous,” Cox said. “You know the defense, you know all the calls, you kind of know the schemes of the offense, you know what they’re running, so you can go in with a lot of confidence. At the same time, in front of 70-something thousand people, you get that adrenaline rush, so that’s one of the things that helps me out a lot.”
He might have a larger role than last week if Bailey and Goodman don’t recover from injuries suffered on Sunday in time for this week’s game against the Colts. Head Coach Josh McDaniels said the jury is still out on his starting corners.
“Nothing is broken,” McDaniels said. “I don’t know if they’re going to be (ready) or not, but we’re hopeful that both of them will have an opportunity to play.”
Cox is confident he’ll have a chance to square off against Peyton Manning, whom he said he watched growing up, no matter how much the veteran corners figure into the game plan.
“If they’re playing or not, I think I’m about to fit in big time,” Cox said. “I’m prepared for it. I’m ready. I’ve still got a lot of coaching coming forward for this week, so I just have to take it all in.”
LEAVE IT IN THE LOCKER ROOM
If you’re a NFL player or coach, a regular season victory is certainly a reason to celebrate. You spend all week dissecting an opponent on film and preparing a game plan. Executing that plan and outpunching the other team isn’t easy.
But it’s best not to break out the champagne. You might only have time to sip half a glass.
“The Woo-Hoo party time ends as soon as you leave the locker room,” Brandon Lloyd said.
“It’s not really so much thinking about a celebration as in relishing in what you did right. It’s more so just the confidence of, Hey, we won, we did a lot of things really well and we want to build on top of that. And then we did bad things and we want to learn from that, make the corrections and then apply them to next week.”
In Lloyd’s mind, it’s more pertinent to examine the team’s highlights after a loss, when maintaining confidence is a high priority.
“In a loss you definitely want to focus on what you did right,” he said. “The negatives are glaring and everybody knows what’s wrong, so those are easy to point out and easy to fix.”
There isn’t time to bask in success when you’re preparing to face a team that doesn’t care what you did last week.
“You can’t celebrate too long or you’ll get a beating the next week. We know that,” Robert Ayers said. “We still made mistakes, even though we won. We’re going to correct those mistakes and we’re going to try to win again next week.”
Following the Broncos’ 31-14 win over the Seahawks, the team had a chance to catch the Sunday night game featuring the Giants against the Colts — whom Denver will play at home this Sunday. The euphoria of victory fades a little faster when you watch the Colts jump out to a 24-0 halftime lead.
“I did get home and watch the game — and celebrated the victory all the way until the second quarter,” McDaniels laughed.
No matter the opponent, Ayers knows the Broncos won’t let last week’s outcome affect their performance.
“We’re going to take that mindset regardless of who we’re about to play,” Ayers said. “It’s just going to be a big task for us. We’re going to come out and get ready this week and we’re going to try to win.”