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‘Self-inflicted wounds’ infuriate Broncos after dropping second tough loss to Chiefs

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Players were mad at the refs and more at themselves for not finishing a game in many ways they controlled.

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Andrew Mason tagged the mood in the Broncos locker room after the 30-23 loss to the Chiefs as somewhere between “frustration” and “exasperation.”

Frustrated by losing, exasperated by losing a game they could have won.

Because if you out-gain the opponent 411 yards to 340, including nearly 200 on the ground, win the time of possession, have more first downs and hold the opponents to under 50 yards rushing, it would be fair to think you win that game.

But if you can’t keep yourself from giving up 83 yards in penalties, 40 yards in sacks and two turnovers while allowing the opposing quarterback to spread 300 yards passing around six offensive weapons, you’re not winning the game.

And that sentiment was obvious.

“Critical moments in the game, we let them score touchdowns - and so many penalties, penalties all over the place,” said Von Miller, who finally got a sack on Mahomes this season. “You can’t beat a good football team like that with those types of penalties. Unfortunate situation … extremely tough loss.”

Case Keenum, who was 23 of 34 for 262 yards on the day plus one fumble lost and one interception, noted that when playing a team like the Chiefs, the Broncos offense needed to take advantage of every scoring opportunity to win - and it couldn’t do it.

“There were sometimes where we had some good momentum and good starts to drives and (we had) self-inflicted wounds,” said “That is near impossible to beat a team like the Chiefs when you are hurting yourself like that.”

Chris Harris Jr. called the loss one of the toughest regular season losses in his career.

You fight so hard and do whatever you can to win and it’s really upsetting,” he said, adding he’s really tired of the self-inflicted wounds. “I’m getting fed up with it, really. We’re beating ourselves every week. I can’t count how many penalties we had on ourselves. You can’t do that if you’re going to come in here and beat the Chiefs.”

The cornerback was equally critical of his team’s offense and defense for inflicting those wounds.

“Man, that just kills us. We get a good defensive stop, and then a penalty. We get them in a good situation, and then a penalty. We just kill ourselves,” he said. “Offense, they got a nice drive going, a 20-yard play, then a penalty. Every time. We got to figure it out.”

Several Broncos voiced the same frustration Broncos Country did online over the ticky-tackness of several penalties - including Shaquil Barrett’s “roughing the passer” call and Connor McGovern’s block in the back penalty.

But at the end of the day, it can’t be about the refs.

“I don’t know what it is, but we knew coming into this game that [this group of refs] call the most penalties in the league,” Harris Jr. said. “I understood coming into the game that I can’t hold. So everybody else got to understand that. Especially, when we got these types of refs that will call everything.”

Phillip Lindsay, who was the victim of several penalties, having 62 rushing yards and good field position negated because of them, said “it is what it is.”

“It’s football. This is the problem with the game. You can’t dictate what happens. At the end of the day, sometimes it’s put in the refs hands,” he said, noting that with a lot going on, anything wrong could draw the flag. “It’s on us. We’re doing things that’s hurting us.”

Brandon Marshall said the Broncos can get away with mistakes against teams like Arizona but not against teams like Kansas City.

“We’ve got to clean that up. I know it’s tough. We keep saying the same thing week in and week out,” said Marshall, who had one tackle all game.

He added that the breakdown in play technique is really the same thing as a mental error.

“If you’ve got a technique breakdown, it’s really mental and you didn’t do what you needed to do,” he said. “But that’s one thing we have to stop. ...You know, we really match up well with this team – two close games. Unfortunately, we didn’t come out on the right side of either one.”

Barrett added that being close doesn’t count.

“We’re close every week, but we’re not getting closer. We’ve just got to work on our fundamentals and get back to clean football,” Barrett said, asking reporters what the team W-L record was. “What’s our record, 3-5? We’ve been close a lot. But it don’t mean anything.”

Miller felt the same.

“That’s the frustrating part about it. Kansas City has a great team, a great team. But I feel like we have a great team, too,” he said. “Whenever we don’t play up to our potential, it’s frustrating, especially in moments like this.”

As usual, Derek Wolfe really summed it up the most succinctly for everyone.

“If you lose it doesn’t count for shit. All that matters is wins in this league,” he said. It’s a production league. If you’re not winning, shit, it doesn’t matter what you did.”