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Broncos’ defense holds its own while offense, ST melt down in the snow

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

If I had told you before the Chiefs-Broncos match-up at Mile High that Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon III would combine for nearly 150 yards rushing, the Broncos defense would sack Patrick Mahomes three times while holding him to 200 yards and one touchdown, the run defense would hold the Chiefs’ running backs to just 100 yards rushing and Kansas City wouldn’t convert a single third down, you would never have believed a 43-16 Chiefs’ victory.

Unless I also told you that the Broncos offense would turn the ball over four times, special teams would allow a run-back for a touchdown and the Broncos would go for a 4th-and-5 midfield and also try a flea flicker in the snow.

The defense turned in a noteworthy performance on an MVP quarterback and all the offense could do was screw it up.

Adam Malnati wrote that the Chiefs embarrassed the Broncos. I would contend the Broncos embarrassed the Broncos.

More specifically, the Broncos’ offense embarrassed the Broncos.

And this did not escape the defense, which was visibly losing its cool as the game got more and more out of hand.

Shelby Harris was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty late in the game and was visibly angry on the sidelines afterward - even brushed off and walked away from Vic Fangio during a heated exchange.

Drew Lock understood. His zero-TD, two pick-six performance was not a pick-me-up to a defense fighting in the cold to contain Mahomes. Both Harris and Bradley Chubb made their frustration known.

“Anger is a good thing,” Lock said, noting that for quarterbacks anger needs to be channeled into pushing the team in a winning direction. “Shelby Harris and Bradley Chubb have the right to express their feelings, without a doubt. They have the right to come and tell someone straight to their face, ‘You need to pick your shit up,’ and if they were to come up and tell me that I wouldn’t mind it.”

Given how well the defense held up to the Chiefs’ offense, safety Justin Simmons did not want to admit that Kansas City was that much better talent-wise than Denver. The difference is execution - in all three phases.

“No. They’re talented but there’s a lot of times where things can be self-inflicted, and I’m talking about all phases of the ball—defense included,” Simmons said. “It is what it is, but we have one more shot—we play them later down the road and we’ll have a chance to go play them at their place. We need to be way better.”

Simmons responded to questions about a “divided locker room” after a lopsided loss like Sunday’s in which one area of the team was clearly balling out while the others were...sputtering.

“There’s going to be no divide,” Simmons said, adding there will be games where “defensively we’re not playing as great and the offense is going to have to pick us up” but “there’s going to be no divide on the team. Everyone on our team, we know is fighting and doing their best. We just have to be better, that’s point blank simple.”

But Simmons isn’t letting the offense off the hook for its poor showing on Sunday either.

“I’m not an offensive guy, but there are no excuses because everyone’s dealing with the same kind of offseason,” Simmons said, pointing to having a new offensive coordinator, new guys rotated in and out after injuries, etc.

“There’s a lot of that going on. I’m sure it’s the same exact thing on offense. You’ve got a lot of new weapons, you’re dealing with communication and you’re just trying to find out how to run different things. It takes time,” Simmons added. “It’s not an excuse by any stretch of the imagination but all I know is that we’ll be fine. When it’s all said and done, I trust our guys. I know who we’ve got in that room, I’ve practiced against them, and I’m not worried one bit.”

Coach Fangio said moving forward the team has “to absorb the hurt and the disappointment” so by Wednesday when prep for the Chargers is on deck, the anger has been “flushed out and we’ve got to get rolling.”

If the 43-16 score tells Fangio one thing overall it’s that this young offense and relatively young defense has “a lot of growing we have to do.”

“I do think we have the right guys there to improve it. I think we have the right coaches to help them improve,” Fangio said. “We’ve just got to keep fighting through it and keep getting better and get over the top. Not turn it over, make a few more plays here and there, be a little better on third down and things will start to click for the offense.”

A.J. Bouyé, who was back in the lineup for the first time since Week 1, gave his new QB a pep talk after the disappointing loss.

“It’s very frustrating. The biggest thing that we could do is just stick together,” he said. “I talked to Drew after the game, I let him know I’ve played against a lot of great quarterbacks that have had bad games. It’s not about that, it’s how you respond, and I just reassured him that the guys are always behind him no matter what and we just going to keep fighting.”