This is probably the worst loss you can imagine. It simply does not add up. The Denver Broncos quite honestly played their best football game so far this season, and they came up with nothing but a big, fat, deflating loss.
It's really hard to comprehend what happened in Sunday's game. I'm still in a bit of a state of shock, because the Broncos had the game won. All they had to do was not allow the Jets' prayer on fourth down to be answered, and the game was won.
Forget this missed field goal, the bad snap on the first field goal, or Knowshon Moreno's fumble. All of those mistakes could have been completely overcome with one play. For the second consecutive week, the Denver Broncos were beaten by a prayer of a pass, and this one proved to be more costly than any of us could have imagined.
As Mark Sanchez was under pressure, he heaved a pass downfield to Santonio Holmes, who was being covered by Renaldo Hill. As the ball spiraled downward, Holmes fell down, and as the ball came even closer yet, it appeared as though the two players jockeyed a bit. Holmes tried to prevent an interception, and Hill tried to prevent a catch. When the official pulled the flag out of his pocket, I was beside myself.
Despite having three timeouts and over a minute to play, I had a terrible feeling that the game was decided. The momentum shifted with the official's call. In the late stages of a game, if a team throws up a prayer on fourth down, the answer should not come from a referee. There was jockeying by both parties throughout the play, and there is no way the game should have been decided the way it was.
Now, is the pass interference the reason for the Broncos' loss? No. Are the officials at fault for the loss? No. The Broncos had two opportunities for field goals that would have, in theory, sealed the win.
This team has made far too many mistakes this season for my liking. I am beside myself about this loss. The season is not yet lost, but this is a pretty rare feeling for me. I hate having to wait a week for the next game, especially after one like this.
I'm finding it hard to even point out the things the Broncos did well. This was, by my eye, the best running performance they have had all season long. Knowshon broke off a nice run, as did Buckhalter, Maroney, and even Tebow and Orton. Orton had two huge running plays, and obviously Tebow had the five yard touchdown score.
The running game looked, dare I say, like a respectable unit against the Jets, who have a very good run defense. I mean, it took eight ball carriers (seven if you don't include the botched snap from Colquitt), but the Broncos made it happen. 145 yards on the day against the stingiest run defense in the NFL. Color me impressed in that regard.
Obviously, with the running game getting some attention, the production of the passing game faltered. Kyle Orton had his worst game of the season, completing 14 of his 34 passes for only 209 yards and a touchdown. Still, he didn't throw any interceptions, and he was testing Darrelle Revis more than most cornerbacks would have. In fact, his lone touchdown came when Demaryius Thomas went to Revis Island, peed on his throne, and brought down a touchdown pass from Orton. It was nice to see Thomas get some against one of the cockiest players in the NFL.
Still, I wasn't impressed with the passing game today at all. I won't attribute the lack of success through the air to Orton losing rhythm, though, because the change of pace in offense worked great for the Broncos most of the time they ran it. In fact, the Wild Horses package was a great addition to the offense, and I enjoyed watching it. The option offense isn't something I think we will have to get used to, but it definitely kept the Jets on their toes when Tebow entered the game, and it was a solid weapon.
When it came down to crunch time, the Broncos put the ball in the hands of Kyle Orton, who took the team down the field following Tomlinson's second and game-winning touchdown. The Broncos moved the ball down the field with some relative ease at the end of the game, and on a third down and six to go, rookie center J.D. Walton made the most costly mistake of his young career, botching the snap to Orton, who couldn't recover it.
Normally, I would have thrown something at this point. For this one, I just sat there in awe. I simply couldn't believe what had just happened. I think the best way to describe how I felt would have been "sickened." I'm not sure if that's a word, but I don't care. It's the feeling that you don't even want to show up to school the next day. Not that I'm afraid of the criticism, but it's just a terrible feeling. You get so emotionally invested in a game, and to have it end the way it did, it was just awful.
Sorry to be a downer.
Not all hope is lost, though. Thankfully, we play in a division where every other team is capable of losing on a given week. That happened this week, so we lost no ground in the divisional race that we are fighting right now. The Chiefs and their fans have to be heartbroken. The Chargers and their fans? I can't even speak to that. The Raiders fans should be used to what just happened today.
Which brings me to my next point--we play the Raiders this week.
I saw in the comment thread that this week is a "must win" game. I agree. I think the Broncos are severely deflated right now. Lindsay Jones was talking this week about how loose this team was. How the locker room had such a great vibe. That was evident against the Jets, as the Broncos were flying around the field defensively, making tons of plays.
If you want to know who impressed me today, it was our three rookie cornerbacks. Not to take away from Champ Bailey, but darn it, Perrish Cox played a pretty fantastic game. After getting torched by the Colts and Ravens, Cox came out against the Jets and acted like those games never happened.
He nearly picked Sanchez off on the first drive, and finished the game with seven tackles, two passes defensed, and a critical forced fumble. Cox played his best game as a pro. He shut down whoever he was covering for the most part, and despite giving up a couple of catches, I think this was a great coming out party of sorts for the rookie. He gets my game ball.
Syd'Quan Thompson picked off Sanchez in this game, an I'm so excited to see him getting more reps defensively. It sucks that it's at the expense of Goodman, Dawkins, and McBath, but he's made the most of his opportunities. In addition to his pick, he had a nice tackle on special teams, and saw action as the punt returner.
Cassius Vaughn also made a nice play on special teams, and he is quickly becoming one of my favorite young players. His speed is unquestionably fantastic, and he will be on this team for a long time if he can contribute in that fashion.
The Jets have a great pass rush, and it should be noted that they only had one sack on the day, and at this risk of poor journalism, the sack was because of a crappy play by Kyle Orton. He should have gotten rid of the dang ball, but he took a sack instead to Sione Pouha, who had a nice game for the Jets.
I didn't even notice that Ryan Harris was not in the lineup. Zane Beadles is quietly having a good season for us. This was the best overall performance by the offensive line. I still think Russ Hochstein is better served as a backup. He is much more useful for this team when he doesn't have to play. I don't know how else to put that, and I know it sounds harsh, but he is not a very good player. That said, I have to give him credit for holding up in pass protect, but he was the victim of the Jets blowing up running plays a couple of times.
The defense did its job today. They forced turnovers, they sacked the quarterback, and they stopped the run. I don't know what more you can ask for from these guys. Obviously, they gave up some yardage on the second to last drive by the Jets when they tied the game at 17, including the play to Tomlinson. For a good majority of the game, though, they were plaing great football. The 4-3 alignment was tough for the Jets to get outside on. They had some good runs to the inside, but the outside seemed like yards were hard to come by.
I guess Lonie Paxton is human. We don't mention his name hardly at all on this site. In fact, he's one of the most seasoned players on our team, and certainly one of the best at what he does, if not the best. Today he made his first glaring mistake. The guy who has snapped for game winning field goals in the Super Bowl botched one today, on a play that would have given the Broncos an early lead. Again, these are mistakes that need to be avoided.
The biggest reason, at least in my mind, that the Broncos lost today was when their defense forced two straight three and outs in the fourth quarter, and the offense proceeded to get two straight of their own. It was a pitiful series of events that kept New York in the game. Not until the drive where we took a 20-17 lead did we give our defensive unit an adequate break.
Something, someone, somewhere did not want the Denver Broncos to win this game. It's pretty rare that we would force three turnovers, run for 145 yards, hold the other team to a 38 percent third down conversion rate, and still lose the game. It's very tough for me to even comprehend right now. I hope I'm still making sense through all of my rambling right now, and if there's confusion, let me apologize.
This was a game the Broncos no doubt in my mind should have won. They out-played the Jets for all but one drive of this game. I think morality among the fans right now is so low because everyone believes that this team was the better team today, and none of us can agree on a reason why we lost. It's clear that we overcame every mistake save for Renaldo Hill's bogus pass interference.
I think the Denver Broncos come out this week against the Raiders in another fight or flight game. It was clear the Broncos came out fighting against the Jets, and I think the Jets really snuck away with one. There are no moral victories, but this loss is going to really hurt because it was a game we won in almost every aspect besides the final score, which in the end is the only number that really matters.
The Broncos will come out next week against the Raiders facing another team desperate for a victory. A team that went on the road this week to a team without a victory and lost. The Raiders have given the Broncos trouble in recent years in Denver, but this is a game the Broncos are desperate to win, and they are at home. I expect a blowout in favor of the Broncos next week, but like the rest of you, I'll be more than satisfied with just winning.
The playoffs don't quite start now for the Broncos, but the game this week against the Raiders will determine a lot about this team going forward. If the Broncos win, they are 3-4 heading to the London game on Halloween. If they are 2-5, they are going to be battling the rest of the season for their division hopes, and perhaps for some, their jobs.