At the end of the first half of the Denver Broncos week 15 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, we were all treated to one of those awful sequences that seems to define their losses.
After one of the several punts in the half, Denver took the ball with 3:30 left in the half on their own 20 yard line. They proceeded to move with as little urgency as possible. The goal was clear; score with no time left for the Bengals to score. 13 plays and 3 minutes and 16 seconds later, Brandon McManus stood over a 51-yard field goal attempt.
It was obvious to everyone off his foot that he missed it, badly. I walked out of the room to go do some halftime chores. No way anything else was going to happen.
Cincinnati got the ball back with nine seconds left. One pass later they were in field goal range. I walked back into the room just in time to see Evan McPherson kick a 58-yard field goal to end the half. With confusion on my face I asked my son what happened. He explained it, and I laughed out loud.
This sequence was mind-bogglingly bad. The whole first half was, but to play with zero urgency in what amounted to a playoff game was just disappointing.
And what’s worse is that it wasn’t all that surprising to see the offense be that bad. Pat Shurmur has been a thorn in the side of Broncos Country since arriving in Denver. His play calling is inconsistent at best.
The Teddy Bridgewater injury was scary, and changed the tone of the game. Reports were that he had feeling in his extremities, and hopefully he will be OK moving forward.
The injury to Teddy aside, the game had moments that had to make you laugh, just to keep from crying. Drew Lock came in for Bridgewater, and led the team to their first TD. His TD pass to Tim Patrick was the first time in the whole game that a drive didn’t end with either a punt or FG.
There was a little hope. Maybe Lock could come in and get the win in relief. After the Bengals scored a touchdown almost immediately after the Broncos, Denver’s offense put together a solid drive.
As they neared the end zone, Pat Shurmur called an RPO. Lock pulled the ball down and decided to run. He could have just handed the ball to Javonte Williams. Instead, the Bengals Khalid Kareem simply reached out and took the ball right out of his hands. What ensued was a comedy of errors. A Benny Hill style sequence that saw the Broncos seem to get the ball back, and then not get it back.
I laughed. What else could I do? We were then treated to a return to kicking. The defense continues to play solid, while the offense reaches new depths of fecklessness. When the game finally came to an end, Denver looked like a team that had no business making the playoffs.
It doesn’t look like they will.