IN THEIR WORDS: The Broncos react to the fight between Talib, Crabtree

Nov 26, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) and Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) fight on the sidelines as both teams run to the fight during the first quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Tempers flared early in the week 12 matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders.

On the Raiders’ second play of their second offensive drive, wide receiver Michael Crabtree tangled himself up with cornerback Aqib Talib, pushing him out of bounds and onto the ground before teammates from both sides joined in on the scuffle. Reportedly, Talib instigated the confrontation as result of a previous play in which Crabtree had “sucker-punched” teammate Chris Harris Jr.

After the two went to the ground, Talib and Crabtree were temporarily separated, but found and fought each other again on the playing field, while teammates scuffled on the sideline, before being separated again and ejected. Raiders guard Gabe Jackson was also ejected.

Broncos’ players and coaches reacted after the game:

Broncos head coach Vance Joseph

“I don’t like it and it’s unacceptable. We can’t lose our best players because of personal battles. That’s a personal battle. This is about the Broncos, so it’s unacceptable. We can’t have it. It’s nonnegotiable. Obviously, losing one of our best players and playing a young guy, it hurt us tonight, so we can’t have it. We talk about those things all the time and we can’t have it. Unacceptable.”

On if he would discipline Talib:

“Well, we’ll see. I didn’t see the whole play. Right now, I’m dealing with the result of what happened, and both teams lost two of their best players. It’s nonsense. It’s silly, so I don’t know what exactly happened, but I know it can’t happen to our football team especially.”

Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr.

“I mean I guess his [Michael Crabtree] initiative was to come out there and fight today; I guess it wasn’t to play football. He came out there ready, just punched me in the stomach, I just lost my breath.”

On if he saw the fight:

“I was getting attended to by the trainers, so I didn’t see anything. I was in the far back, so I didn’t see anything. I just heard the crowd.”

On what happened between him and Crabtree:

“Yeah, he just sucker-punched me. I have never seen that in the NFL. Today, he just came out wanting to fight. He didn’t want to play football. It was the second play of the game. It was a run play, I was playing man, and I wasn’t even doing anything. He just came in there, was like ‘BAM’ — hit me right in the middle of the stomach and I just lost my breath.”

Broncos linebacker Von Miller:

On if he saw the play involving Harris:

“I don’t know. I didn’t see anything really, I just heard the whistling when all the commotion started, and I ran over there. It was a crazy start to the game.”

On if he thinks Talib hurt the team:

“It’s tough. You want to keep your guys in the game, but some stuff you can’t control. Those guys are superstars. Those guys really have a mind of their own and I could say whatever and it still would hurt us regardless. Of course it hurt us — we want to have our guy out there — but you know that’s the way he wanted to approach it, and I support him 100 percent. You want to have him in there. I wanted to play against [Michael] Crab [Crabtree] and have that type of game, but you can only control what you can control and those guys are going to do what they’re gonna do.”

Broncos safety Darian Stewart:

“Oh yeah, absolutely. We are a team, man. So, I mean, the Raiders stepped up for their players, and we stepped up for ours. But we just had to, I guess, mediate it and calm everything down.”

Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall:

On how the team responded without Talib:

“That’s kind of tough. You know, [Talib’s] a great cornerback. To lose him in the first quarter, that’s tough. I think we still held our own. I think [Brandon Langley] and Chris [Harris] and those guys held their own. But, it’s just tough.”

On Talib breaking Crabtree’s chain for a second time:

“Wow. Oh, did [Crabtree] have another chain on? Oh, wow. Talib is a bully, man.”

On if he knew a fight was coming:

“Kind of. But I was just really just focused on the play. It was a run play. Then I just hear the crowd going crazy. And I just looked. Oh, my God.”

Broncos safety Justin Simmons:

“I mean he was pretty calm, honestly. He was just upset. Upset that one, Chris [Harris] is the furthest from a dirty player. I mean, Chris is one of the most genuine guys that I ever met. So for him, he was walking off the field pissed, looking at the sideline yelling, so you know something was wrong. He said that [Michael] Crabtree had hit him, uppercut him on the stomach on his way out. So Aqib took that personal. So I don’t know what happened on their side. Aqib said [Crabtree] tried to do the same thing to him. And obviously, Aqib is a little more… not as genuine as Chris when it comes to that type of stuff. So he took it into his own hands. I didn’t even really get to see it. I was on the other side of the field trying to get the next play called for the defense.”

Broncos linebacker Shane Ray:

On if he knew Talib broke Crabtree’s chain:

“Nah, I didn’t see none of that. I just saw the slam on the sideline. What do you do? What do you do? I tried to pull [Crabtree] out of there, and then it was just chaos.”

On the bad blood between Crabtree and Harris/Talib:

“I mean, we all know that there is bad blood there between them. I don’t know what happened on the play between Chris and [WR] Michael Crabtree. All I know was, I was right there when I saw the tussle on the sideline with Talib. You know, that is my teammate. At the end of the day, I am trying to help my teammate out. Brawl happens, the sidelines clear. It happens like that, especially [when] you’ve have got two rival teams going at it like that, so it is expected, man. It is Broncos versus Raiders, so it is always a physical, rough game when we play.”

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