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Broncos cut ties with secondary coach Ron Milus

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Broncos cut ties with secondary coach Ron Milus

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos have promoted Cory Undlin to secondary coach, replacing Ron Milus, who had coached defensive backs under John Fox for the last four seasons.

However, Milus isn't being made the scapegoat for the Broncos' stunning surrender of that 70-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds left that led to their 38-35 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in double-overtime last weekend, a person with the team told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club doesn't speak publicly about coaches' contracts.

Milus' contract wasn't renewed. He was in his second stint with the Broncos, who hadn't allowed a 300-yard passer all season before giving up 331 to Joe Flacco last weekend. Flacco also threw TD passes of 59 and 32 yards to Torrey Smith, who repeatedly got behind 12-time Pro Bowler Champ Bailey.

The Ravens faced a third-and-3 from their own 30 in the final minute when Jacoby Jones raced past cornerback Tony Carter and hauled in Flacco's heave that safety Rahim Moore badly misjudged.

After the game, Moore put the loss squarely on his shoulders, saying, ``When it's all said and done, the safeties can't let nothing get behind them and I did. ... I misjudged it. It actually floated a little farther than I thought it was.''

Fox said, ``I've never believed in it's one guy, one play. It obviously was a big play.''

Fox said the players were so stunned by the gaffe that he decided to play for overtime and had Peyton Manning take a knee instead of trying to move into field goal range with two timeouts and 31 seconds to work with.

Fox has taken a lot of heat for that decision but said this week he stands by it and ``I'd do it again 10 times.'' His boss, John Elway, concurred with the call to play for overtime, where Manning's interception led to the game-deciding field goal in the 77th minute of the longest game in the NFL in 26 years.

Undlin, 41, spent last season as the quality control coach for Denver's defense, which finished third in the league against both the run and the pass. He also coached DBs in Jacksonville under Jack Del Rio when Denver's defensive coordinator was the Jaguars' head coach.

``I am confident he will be a great fit and get the most out of our secondary,'' Fox said, adding, ``I appreciate all of Ron Milus' hard work and wish him the best.''

Undlin coached linebackers in 2009 in Jacksonville and DBs there in 2010-11. He's also worked with the secondary in both Cleveland and New England.

Earlier in the day, the Broncos lost versatile offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who was hired as head coach of the San Diego Chargers, marking the second straight season a top Denver assistant was hired away by an AFC West rival. The Raiders grabbed defensive coordinator Dennis Allen a year ago.

On Monday, Fox said he was prepared for McCoy's expected departure.

``No different than when Dennis left a year ago. I think that worked out all right,'' he said. ``And I don't have any reasons to think any different.''

Possible candidates to replace McCoy include Broncos quarterbacks coach Adam Gase and Tom Moore, Manning's old coordinator in Indianapolis.

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Follow Arnie Stapleton on Twitter:http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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Ravens' Benjamin Watson named finalist for Walter Payton Man of the Year

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USA Today Sports

Ravens' Benjamin Watson named finalist for Walter Payton Man of the Year

Ravens' tight end Benjamin Watson is among three finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award which "recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field."

The 14-year veteran is being recognized for his One More Foundation, which Watson and his wife Kirsten created in 2008. According to their website, the foundations purpose is "devoted to spreading the love and hope of Christ to One More soul by meeting real needs, promoting education and providing enrichment opportunities through charitable initiatives and partnerships." This is the second time in Watson's career he has been nominated. 

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In addition to this nomination, Watson was awarded the 2017 Bart Starr Award which is given annually to a NFL player who "best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community." 

Some of Watson's charitable efforts through the One More Foundation include participating in #MyClauseMyCleasts to bring awareness to human sex trafficking, playing secret Santa to 25 families from Building Families for Children and partnering with the New Orleans Family Justice Center- where he used to play- helping survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is a finalist for his Receptions for Research Foundation which focuses on cancer research and programming. Olsen and his wife Kara also started the HEARTest Yard Fund, a family service program that "provides families of babies affected by congenital heart disease with services including in-home, private nursing care, physical therapy and speech therapy, all at no cost to the families or hospital."

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Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is a finalist for the $37 million he raised for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in addition to his already established Justin J. Watt Foundation

The winner will be announced at NFL Honors airing February 3rd at 9 p.m ET on NBC. 

The winner will receive a $500,000 donation with $250,000 of it going to their foundation of choice and the other $250,000 going in his name to help expand Character Playbook nationwide.

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Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale welcomes second chance at role

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Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale welcomes second chance at role

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Don Martindale wondered if he would ever get a second chance to be an NFL defensive coordinator after his one-and-done disaster with the Denver Broncos in 2010.

The Broncos went 4-12 that season and gave up more points (29.4 per game) and yards (390.8) than any team in the league. Those miserable numbers, not surprisingly, cost Martindale his job.

He latched on with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 as linebackers coach. After working diligently with several stars, including Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Zachary Orr and C.J. Mosley, the 54-year-old Martindale last week was promoted to defensive coordinator.

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To say he's pleased to be in charge of an NFL defense again would be a profound understatement.

"Without a doubt," Martindale said Thursday. "My family knows it. Everybody knows it. My players know it. I can't wait."

His performance in Denver eight years ago is hardly worth putting on a resume, but Martindale believes it was a worthwhile experience.

"Even though the stats were what they were, I was really proud with how we played," he said. "I'm glad I went through that process because I think that makes me a better coach today. It's like I tell my guys: You either win or you learn."

Martindale's new job with the Ravens carries the responsibility of overseeing a unit that has long been among the best in the NFL, thriving under notable leaders such as Marvin Lewis, Rex Ryan, Chuck Pagano and Dean Pees, who retired on Jan. 1.

"I've been preparing for this job all my life," Martindale said. "It's very humbling, but I understand the pressure and I look forward to the challenge."

Martindale takes over a defense that this season ranked 12th in net yards allowed, first in takeaways (34) and sixth in fewest points allowed (18.9). He has no plans to revamp the unit or change the philosophy, especially since head coach John Harbaugh stressed the need to retain continuity before launching his search for Pees' replacement.

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Martindale will, however, put his own stamp on the unit.

"I think personality-wise, and just calls, there's going to be some things that are the same. And then there are going to be sometimes where I'm going to pressure more," Martindale said. "I just think I have a more aggressive personality in calling the game. Sometimes, too aggressive. That's some of the things I've learned from the past."

His most daunting task will be finding a way to make the defense to come up big late in the game. In 2016, a fourth-quarter collapse in Pittsburgh cost Baltimore a playoff berth. This season, a fourth-down touchdown pass in the final minute by Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton bounced the Ravens from the postseason chase.

"Our mantra has always been to finish," Martindale said. "We're close. Obviously, the last two years, it's been the last play that's knocked us out of it. We are going to work diligently -- all of us -- with our package and situational football.

"That's going to be the next step, I think, that will skyrocket us. That's the big thing that I see. We were really good. Let's make it great."