CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- His pride stung, but his competitive drive fueled, Donald Stephenson played well Sunday night when taking over for overmatched Ty Sambrailo. In his mind, there's no doubt he should be the starter at right tackle.
"I know I am the guy. I have to be guy for this team," said Stephenson, who was the Broncos' biggest offseason signing at three years, $14 million with $10 million guaranteed. "I know my team needs me. I have to get better. We can't let what happened affect the rest of the season."
Stephenson impressed coach Kubiak with his performance. With more time, quarterback Trevor Siemian delivered his best second half of the season, completing 11 passes, including three touchdowns.
"(Stephenson) played like he didn't want to come off the field," Kubiak said. "Hopefully, Donald can take from what he did last night, grow from that and play consistent for us down the stretch."
Kubiak dismissed the idea that wide receiver Bennie Fowler should have given himself up instead of scoring a 76-yard touchdown. In theory, had he stopped, which runs against all human emotion in that instant, the Broncos could have kicked a field goal and led 20-16 with 33 seconds remaining. "I disagree with that. There was too much football left," Kubiak said. Fowler told Denver7 the Broncos practice stopping to eat more clock. "But that's with under two minutes and on our side of the field," Fowler said. ... The Broncos appear a longshot to win the AFC West. They are fighting with the Miami Dolphins, among others, for a final playoff spot. "I"m not worried about the stretch run. I'm worried about Jacksonville," Kubiak said. ... Long snapper Casey Kreiter remains day-to-day with a calf injury. ... Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe, whose sore right elbow made it through Sunday's game without a setback, "If that loss doesn't hurt you then you shouldn't be playing the game." ... The Patriots claimed Broncos defensive tackle Darius Kilgo off waivers.