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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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Wide receiver Willie Snead thriving with Ravens as man in the middle

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USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver Willie Snead thriving with Ravens as man in the middle

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Willie Snead has a knack for weaving through a row of linebackers in the middle of the field before making a clutch catch for the Baltimore Ravens.

Such was the case last Sunday against Tennessee, when Snead squeezed between two defenders for a 24-yard gain on a third-and-17 from the Baltimore 15.

"He's on the ground, he makes the catch, he's getting pushed back to the ground, stepped all over, and he just gets up and gives the first-down signal right there in the guy's face," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "That's the kind of competitor he is. He's all ball, all the time."

Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome rarely chases restricted free agents, but he made an exception with Snead this past offseason after it became apparent that the receiver's three-year run in New Orleans was done. One of Drew Brees' favorite targets in 2015 and 2016, Snead began last season with a three-game suspension for violating the NFL personal conduct policy. He then fought a hamstring injury and finished with just eight catches for 92 yards and no touchdowns.

Armed with a two-year, $10.4 million contract, Snead was delighted to arrive in Baltimore last April.

"Last year just left a really bitter taste in my mouth, the organization and how everything was handled," Snead said Tuesday. "To be a part of this organization was just a breath of fresh air. I wanted to go somewhere where I'm wanted."

It couldn't have worked out better for Snead -- and the Ravens.

"To see that you were right, to see all that come together and him play so well, being exactly what you thought you were going to get, is very rewarding," Harbaugh said.

Snead was one of three free agent receivers signed by Newsome in an effort to enhance a passing game that sputtered in 2017. Snead is the possession receiver, Michael Crabtree provides an outside threat and John Brown is the speedster.

Snead and Crabtree are tied for the team lead with 30 catches. Brown has 21 receptions for a team-high 424 yards and three touchdowns.

"I don't have the physical ability like John Brown to run by you, and I'm not big and strong like Michael Crabtree," Snead observed, "so I have to work harder than everybody else just to stand out."

That's how it's always been for Snead, who finally finds himself in a place where his talent is acknowledged and appreciated.

"This is a guy that's been doubted his whole career -- high school, college and the NFL," Harbaugh said. "So I'm fine if they keep doubting him."

After starring as a quarterback at Muskegon Heights in Michigan, Snead played three years as a receiver at Ball State before going undrafted in 2014. He finally made it to the NFL the following year.

"Coming out of college, (people said) I left too early, I wasn't ready to play in the NFL," Snead recalled. "And in the NFL, it was, `Is he fast enough to separate? Can he make those plays in clutch situations?' I've always been doubted."

Not anymore.

"I'll tell you one thing, Willie comes Sunday ready to play," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. "He's one of the toughest guys I've been around."

This Sunday, the Ravens (4-2) host the Saints (4-1). Snead insists this wasn't one of those games that he circled on the calendar.

"This is another team. I have to approach it that way just to stay focused," Snead said.

New Orleans coach Sean Payton has seen enough of Snead this season to know he's a threat with the ball, and without it.

"He has a tremendous amount of grit. You see him making plays on third down," Payton said. "He's an outstanding blocker. He'll come across in motion, he'll get to the point of attack in the run game, but he'll also find the holes in the zone and man-to-man coverages."

The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Snead has no problem mixing it up with anyone, large or small, at any spot on the field.

"He can go inside or outside, but man, he makes some -- scouts call them blood area -- catches," Harbaugh said. "In the middle, that's where he thrives."

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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

The defensive performance on display by the Baltimore Ravens Sunday against the Tennessee Titans in a 21-0 shutout win was flat out historic. So historic that it's earned linebacker Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

A franchise-record 11 sacks were laid on quarterback Marcus Mariota during the Week 6 matchup, with Smith leading the way with three of them.   

So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. As someone who is in the final year of his rookie NFL contract, he's certainly proving he is worthy of getting paid this offseason. 

"It feels great, man. It's big," Smith said of the honor during media availability Wednesday. "I know when I first found out I called my mom and she was already looking at it. But I called her and she was trying to congratulate me and was like 'who would've ever thought the guy that played one year of high school football would be where he at now and making so many goals.'"

But earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week isn't the only goal Smith has in mind. His performance through the first six weeks and assisting the No. 1 ranked scoring defense is just a stepping stone to the ultimate honor.

"I was telling her, 'Ma you know this is a good self-goal but my main goal is to get us to the Super Bowl.'" 

The road to the Super Bowl for Smith and the Ravens continues this Sunday vs. Drew Brees and the Saints. 

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