The Broncos want to move on. They really do.
And so they deflect each question about last season's playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens with speed and precision. They offer up reasons that Thursday's season opener stands on its own.
"It's a new season," running back Ronnie Hillman said. "You can't pin that one game on this whole season. Once the game is over, then what? People are ready for it. There might be a little extra motivation. But it's another week. We've just got to go out there and play."
Except this isn't like any other week.
A large part of the excitement and anticipation for one of the biggest season-opening games in team history stems from the Ravens dancing off a frozen Sports Authority Field at Mile High in January, victors in a double-overtime divisional playoff game they entered as decided underdogs, the first step of their Super Bowl run.
The Broncos were left empty.
"Even if we won that game and we played them this year, we'd feel like we'd want to go out and beat them again," Hillman said. "It's not just because they beat us. It's because we don't want to lose."
Broncos safety Rahim Moore will forever be remembered for blowing coverage on Jacoby Jones' 70-yard touchdown reception late in regulation that tied the score. No doubt the video of that pass sailing over his head will be played on the national television broadcast Thursday evening. He has repeatedly taken responsibility for the loss.
But there were a number of missed opportunities, on both sides of the ball.
Jones told The Baltimore Sun this week: "I think he was trying to make a play and we caught him slipping. They weren't up for us. Bingo."
Moore isn't buying the story line that it's good to play Baltimore right out of the game to fully extinguish any lingering demons.
"It's not about me," Moore said. "It's about the team. I'm a team player. We all lost together. We all suffered. The good thing about it is that it's a whole new year. Nobody remembers what you did last year. I'm excited. We're excited as a team."
There is precedent for a Broncos team using a damaging playoff loss as motivation to higher heights.
In January 1997, the Broncos were stunned in a 30-27 playoff loss at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars in which Denver was a heavy favorite. The Broncos won the Super Bowl the following season, and nearly every player on that team said he returned hungrier after the devastating loss.
As for Thursday night's game, this is a vastly different Ravens defense the Broncos will face. Elvis Dumervil has switched from orange to purple. Ray Lewis is gone. Ed Reed, too. It's hard to get revenge against a team that lost many of the key figures on the team that beat you.
The Ravens are so different that quarterback Peyton Manning has had a difficult time scouting them.
"I haven't played against them yet so I've only seen a limited amount on film of how much the starters have played in the preseason," Manning said. "They replaced some really good players with another round of good players. They brought some experience, some athleticism, and until you play them you probably don't know them as well. You study what you see in the preseason knowing full well that there is probably some stuff that they haven't shown in the preseason."
Broncos coach John Fox wants it known it's not just the Ravens who have changed.
"We're different too,"
Fox said. "It's the exciting thing starting off a new season. Everybody starts 0-0. They're different; we're different. In a lot of ways we're familiar. We played them twice last year and we're starting the season this year with them. There's familiarity on both sides."