With everything going on Sunday in Tennessee, there was one inexcusable error that the Broncos committed that most fans probably missed.
Following Kyle Orton's tipped ball interception on the Broncos final drive there was only 1:39 left on the clock and the game was all but over. Since the Broncos had one time out left, there was still enough time remaining to have to actually run some conservative plays, but as long as the Titans did not commit any mistakes the game was there's.
On 1st down and 10 the Titans lined up for a simple run play, but after they snapped the ball out came yellow flags from both sides of the field. The referees got together and announced that the Titans has been flagged for an illegal formation penalty because they only had 6 men on the line of scrimmage. B-I-N-G-O! Here was the mistake that the Broncos needed as the clock was stopped by penalty with 1:31 left. With one time out remaining now the Broncos had life; they had an opportunity to stop the Titans and get the ball back with enough time left to try to set up a tying field goal attempt with a kicker on the bench capable of hitting from long distance.
Now comes the inexcusable error and the reality of what happened. Through either sheer negligence, lack of awareness, or because they had already packed it in and accepted the loss, the Broncos failed to realize that they could and should deny the penalty. Illegal formation penalties are timed downs and can be denied so had the Broncos denied the penalty it would have been 2nd down and 7 with 1:31 remaining instead of 1st down and 15. No one on the field or on the Broncos sideline realized this and signaled that they wanted to deny the penalty so the refs marked off the 5 yards and it was 1st down again. Even though the Broncos still had their time out left, with the additional down and with 8 seconds less on the clock the Titans were able to run out the clock with the final play of the game occurring when the Titans took a knee on a 3rd down snap with 41 seconds left in the game. Had the Broncos denied the penalty, instead of taking a knee on 3rd down the Titans likely would have been forced to punt on 4th down and the Broncos would have received the ball back with at least 30 seconds left and would still have had life.
Just about everyone in the world missed this egregious error that the Broncos and their staff made. While there is nothing to say that the Broncos would have been able to capitalize on yet another gift from Tennessee stranger things have happened. But Instead of having another chance the Broncos said "no thanks" to the gift and walked off the field with the loss, most likely never even realizing the gift that the Titans had tried to give them.
While everything else that happened in the game can be debated ad nauseam, there is no debating this one - this error was simply inexcusable!