Von Miller took to the podium after the 35-9 drowning by the Dolphins and spoke unmitigated truth.
“Tough times,” he said.
In just about every way, the Broncos made possibly an inferior opponent (by talent on paper only apparently) look far superior, marching their way to a ninth loss, eighth in a row.
“It’s a tough situation,” Miller said. “I think everything that I probably could say up here I probably said. There’s a lot of stuff going on. Just not putting wins on the board at the end of the day. The defense is not playing good enough to win. I’m not playing good enough to win. The whole team, all of us, are included in this one.”
C.J. Anderson: "We're performing terribly. We've got the talent. We're not doing the little things right, consistently, play after play after play. It used to be we'd do 8 things right and have 1 or 2 messups. Now we're doing 2 things right and having 8 to 10 messups.''#9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) December 4, 2017
The defense started strong, holding Jay Cutler and the offense to three punts on three drives in the first quarter.
But an interception on the Broncos’ first possession followed by a safety on their second, c/o Trevor Siemian and the offensive line, meant the Broncos finished out the first quarter in a baseball score, down 2-0.
“It’s tough, a lot of stuff isn’t bouncing our way,” said C.J. Anderson, who tallied 67 yards on the ground. “It’s definitely not blue and orange year this year for sure. For us as players we have to try to come out every day and continue to keep grinding, continue to keep pushing to try to find a win. One win will make everybody happy.”
After the Broncos scored a measly field goal despite driving to the Dolphins’ 13-yard line, Miami wore down the Broncos defense with a 9-play, 75-yard drive, culminating in a 9-yard touchdown by two former Broncos - Cutler to Julius Thomas.
And then four seconds later, Siemian threw a pick-six, essentially sealing momentum squarely in the Dolphins’ favor.
.@markschlereth - "That's the kind of throw that makes you wonder if he's even right-handed."— Doctor of Words (and tights) (@docllv) December 3, 2017
OMG. Stop the madness.
“It was a back-and-forth game for about a quarter,” said head coach Vance Joseph after the game. “In the second quarter, we gave up 14 points in four seconds. They had a long drive on our defense and a pick-six. That all happened in four seconds. Now we’re down by two scores again, and it looks like every other week.”
And just like “every other week,” the defense held on as long as it could, providing its own offense with two interceptions, including a pick six, a fumble recovery and two sacks.
But just like every other week, the offense could not only not do its part to win, it did just about everything it could to lose.
“Every week we do the same thing week in and week out, and we don’t make it no better,” said Demaryius Thomas, who could claim only two catches on 10 targets. “ It isn’t nothing different. It’s either a penalty, it’s either a turnover, that’s basically kind of what it is. Penalties and turnovers, you can fix that. It’s just I guess guys don’t want to.”
Thomas didn’t let himself off the hook, and he certainly gave props to the defense.
“I got to say hat’s off to my defense because … I can say they played a hell of a game. They played a lot of snaps. They had some big plays out there,” Thomas noted. “They were on the field for a long time, because there was times were we were three-and-out, three-and-out, turnover here, turnover there. It was just tough.”
What it was, was ineptitude at its finest - and everyone watching knew it.
Former Broncos’ offensive linemen Mark Schlereth could barely contain his disgust for his former team’s performance. Karl Mecklenburg tweeted he was going to walk the dog and wasn’t worried about being back in time to watch more of the game.
From the announcers: "The Broncos offense is really stymieing this team."— Doctor of Words (and tights) (@docllv) December 3, 2017
No truer statement.
Hopefully Meck went for a long walk because it definitely only got worse.
The offense started the second half with a perfectly executed three-and-out while the defense held Miami to a field goal - only to trot right back out to defend their red zone two game-clock minutes later when the Broncos’ special teams had a punt blocked.
But Brad Roby saved the mistake - and a near touchdown - by recovering a fumble from Kenny Stills on the Broncos’ 7-yard line.
The heroic play resulted in another three-and-out by the offense.
Then a beautiful pick-six by Justin Simmons - followed by a classy Mile High Salute in the end zone - once again rescued the offense and kept the game within reach, bringing the score within 10.
✈️ back at it again.#DENvsMIA pic.twitter.com/uqX76aidlQ— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 3, 2017
But Siemian’s thow-away on a two-point conversion was, well...mind-boggling.
And then the flood-gates opened. A 20-yard pass from Cutler to Stills on third down set up a 42-yard touchdown run that torched the Broncos defense and put the game out of reach - at least for this offense.
A third interception by the Dolphins with 12 minutes to go and in Denver territory set up a one-play deep touchdown throw to Stills.
The fact that Dolphins’ head coach Adam Gase elected to do an onside kick at that point - up 33-9 - didn’t set well with fans or some players. And according to 9News’ Mike Klis, that decision by the former Broncos’ OC was basically and F-U to John Elway for not helping his head coaching search in 2015.
Source: Adam Gase issue w/ John Elway stems from when Gase was hot HC candidate in 2015 and his belief Elway didn’t help his cause. #9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) December 4, 2017
But Joseph and a number of Broncos saw nothing wrong with the move. It’s not like it was going to matter anyway.
“That’s the game. I’m not sitting on the sideline and saying, ‘Man why are you kicking the onside kick, just give us the ball.’ That’s loser football,” said Miller. “If they want to kick an onside kick, let them do it. We have to cover it. We have to get the ball back and we have to play. It’s the pros. If it was little league, yeah we would be upset but this is the pros.”
It is the pros, and the Broncos were certainly playing loser football. The fact that the final score in the game was another safety by the Dolphins after Isaiah McKenzie fumbled a punt in the end zone was just too metaphorical for this season.
“I mean, everything, everything is tough right now. Everything,” Miller said. “What is Bronco football? We have to find that. We have to grind and get back to whatever it is.”
What it used to be was winning - often improbably but always with a certainty that it could happen.
Now there’s no confidence that two scores down - even one - is recoverable.
“You can’t say Bronco football is…what we did in 2015. That’s two years ago,” said the Super Bowl 50 MVP. “We have to find identity. We have to find the guys that’re ready to take their game to the next level. We just have to keep fighting. It’s the pros.”
Tough times. Tough times, indeed.
There were a few highlights - which was your favorite?
This poll is closed
Justin Simmons’ first career pick-six
Justin Simmons’ Mile High Salute after the pick-six
Bradley Roby’s fumble recovery
Shelby Harris’ sack
Chris Harris Jr.’s INT