After the embarrassment to the Oakland Raiders, it became apparent the playoff shoreline was fading into the night. The Denver Broncos were a sinking ship and quickly taking on water. The question was posed: Who other than the defense will pick up a bucket?
After a crushing 30-27 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the playoff shoreline has all but vanished. The Broncos offense tried to help out the defense but didn’t do nearly enough. Sure, one could place the blame for this defeat on the shoulders of that unit. But think of how many countless times Denver’s defense has bailed out this team over the last season-and-a-half. There’s only so much it can do, and we saw that on Sunday night.
After Kansas City’s touchdown to tie the game at the end of the fourth quarter, it was apparent the defense didn’t have it. That doesn’t pardon that side of the ball from fault. What we saw on the Chiefs’ final three drives was uncharacteristic, to say the least. The Broncos were out of position, failed to get pressure on Alex Smith and committed incredibly stupid penalties.
In the same refrain, it was bound to happen, wasn’t it? Denver’s defense has felt it must play perfect for so long to offset the inadequate and inept offense. Even John Lynch said the defense doesn’t match-up well with the Chiefs offense. You have to admit it is a bit ironic to see the roles reversed like this. Hey, I’m trying to lighten the mood here.
At what point does the offense have to consistently do its part for an entire game? Fans and the cheerleaders in the media will get themselves worked up into a tizzy over the numbers and a few highlight-reel plays, but when the Broncos needed the offense to really, really step up and make plays in this huge game – to bail out the defense for a change – it failed to do so. It also seems people have conveniently forgotten about the pitiful first half the offense put forth, and that’s being kind.
Coupled with Denver’s disastrous special teams, you get this result. Costly penalties (a theme for this game), stupid mistakes and apparent lack of preparation proved too much for the team to overcome. Why is Jordan Norwood still on the roster? Stevie Wonder could do a better job fielding punts.
What has become clear since last season is that this is how Broncos games will unfold. Tight to the bitter end; it’s just a matter of who steps up when it matters most. Flip the script back to last season and this team probably beats Kansas City. Lady Luck was on Denver’s side on its march to Super Bowl 50.
Some thought she was still on the Broncos’ side with how some of this season’s games have turned out – the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, for instance. But something is different with this team.
Yes, there is still a lot of football left, and anything can and usually does happen in sports and the NFL. But you don’t get the sense this method is sustainable to success. The results speak for themselves: Denver is 1-3 in the AFC West. Minus the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday, the schedule doesn’t get any easier. At this point, even the Jaguars aren’t a “lock.”
Will we see the Denver offense we saw for most of the Chiefs game or those few nice plays? Will we see the special teams we saw in the Saints game or the Chiefs game? If there is any doubt about the defense, that stops here.
One thing is for certain: We will see what this teams is made of. This isn’t a result it is accustomed to or familiar with. The Broncos will either find motivation and finish strong, or they’ll let this tough loss weigh them down.
Denver will either go out kicking and screaming or with a whimper.
When you leave results in the hands of Lady Luck, eventually she sinks you.