ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For a team bringing back orange uniforms in 2012, the Broncos were resoundingly blue on Sunday.
While some players were buoyed by their bounce-back season under QB Tim Tebow, most were still bummed over their 45-10 pummeling Saturday night in Foxborough, Mass., at the hands of the Patriots.
"Everybody wants to say we should pat ourselves on the back, but to heck with that. We lost," S Champ Bailey said.
While the Pats reached the AFC title game for the sixth time in 11 seasons, the Broncos head into the offseason with renewed questions about their unconventional quarterback, the 2007 Heisman winner at Florida.
The Tebow phenomenon was built during a six-game winning streak then magnified when he hit Demaryius Thomas for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime in a wild-card playoff win over the Steelers.
"Overall, it's been a very special opportunity for me, something I'm very thankful for, very thankful I had the opportunity to build some of the great relationships with teammates and coaches," Tebow said after Saturday's game. "There's a lot of things we are proud of, even though it's hard to see that now."
A day later Bailey — at 33, a 13-year veteran — had a harder time with the big picture.
"People think we should walk around here with a smile on our face because we made the playoffs, we won a game. We came up short again," he said. "For me, personally, I don't have a lot of time here. I don't know how much longer I'll play."
TEXAN PRIDE: The Texans lost at Baltimore but team owner Bob McNair congratulated coach Gary Kubiak and commented on the job he did, especially in light of injuries to QBs Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart, WR Andre Johnson and DE Mario Williams.
"I told him how proud I was. … To come out and play the way this team has played, I think it's just remarkable," McNair said. "Where would New England have been if (Tom) Brady wasn't playing, and if Wes Welker wasn't playing, and if their best defensive player wasn't playing? Go down the list of any of these teams and ask where they would be — and they wouldn't be in the playoffs. And this team was in the playoffs."
OFFICIAL DOINGS: Aiming to ensure rules are enforced more uniformly, the league will consider making about 10 officials full time next season. All game officials are part time. Responding to a group of about 75 fans before the Ravens-Texans game, commissioner Roger Goodell said the proposal would bring a group of officials to the league offices in New York to help review game films and evaluate calls.
TO THE END: LB Ray Lewis, 36, laughed and said no when asked if Sunday's game could be his last at M&T Bank Stadium as a Raven. "Unless them skies spread and God himself comes down and tells me," he answered with a smile. "Football is too fun for me, man. … When you're having the fun that I'm having and you're playing at the level I'm playing at, do it until you can't do it no more."
AND HIM, TOO: Ravens S Ed Reed was helped off the field after deflecting a pass on the final play, unable to put much weight on his left ankle. But X-rays showed no damage, and the former University of Miami star left little doubt that he'll play Sunday at New England.