The first day (or first two days) after a defeat is hard. With a game as important as the one Sunday, it felt like a duty and privilege to hold out some hope that the Denver Broncos would break the Kansas City Chiefs’ 11-game streak against them.
Part of being a fan is accepting disappointment and shaking the dust off your shoes. I feel the same way about my team today as I felt about them last week: I love them, I think Teddy Bridgewater is a motivator and a good leader, and I can see the care and respect they all very obviously have for one another.
No, I don’t mean the Broncos are going to win every game after this and make it to the playoffs. I don’t think it’s ridiculous to be upset, either. Some of that game play last night was really disappointing. Being 6-6 and bottom of the division is really disappointing. It’s okay to feel disappointed.
“I don’t want to paint that narrative that we played well enough to win,” head coach Vic Fangio said directly after the game, “We didn’t win. We have to get more takeaways. We gave up the score there early in the game. We got to play better in all three phases.”
Fangio wasn’t about to criticize every minute detail of his play calling, of course. For example, he defended the choice to have the offense go for it on fourth and two just before the half, rather than bringing Brandon McManus out for a field goal.
“We had converted a couple of fourth downs to keep it going,” he explained, “One was fourth and seven I believe...you have to score touchdowns to beat this team.”
The coach did, however, address Denver’s issues with third-down conversions that night. “They tipped some balls. They got some rush. They broke up some passes. It is a little bit of everything.”
“We were 7 of 18 on third and fourth downs,” he added.
Getting very real in the moment, Fangio confessed that a loss like that makes you feel empty.
“Obviously, a tough loss tonight,” QB Teddy Bridgewater said, “In an environment like this, against an opponent like the Chiefs, you really want to walk away with a win. You turn the ball over three times, give up a touchdown on offense to their defense, so it’s a lot to learn from.”
Bridgewater went on to simply state what happens in any loss: they gave the opposing team opportunities, and didn’t maximize on their own. He was humble about it and owned it.
“It’s a recipe to get beat,” he said.
Asked how the team would rebound from this, the quarterback shared a sentiment from their strong safety.
“Kareem Jackson said it best in the locker room, that we have five games left and each one is a playoff game for us,” he told reporters, “All we want to do is focus on one day at a time, one week at a time, one opponent at a time.”
This echoes the rest of the team’s approach to the season, a “1-0” mentality, which is frequently mentioned by free safety Justin Simmons: finish a game, watch the tape, learn from your mistakes, start new, and focus on the week ahead. Don’t ruminate in your loss or your victory.
Simmons made it clear that, despite how personal this loss is, they have to recover quickly from this game.
“No one is going to feel sorry for you,” he insisted, “The only thing that matters in this league is winning. Just like every week, we’ll come back tomorrow and watch the film, learn from the bad, and continue to work on some of the things that were good and get ready for Detroit.”
A reporter asked Simmons if they were getting closer to the way they wanted to play, “especially defensively.” The safety didn’t seem to differentiate between the offense and defense as far as sharing the blame of defeat, and I found his statement to be unifying.
“This is just how I’m wired, but I don’t think we did enough to win the game,” he explained, “I don’t think you leave that game saying, ‘Oh, we did our part.’ We could’ve gotten one more takeaway, set our offense up on a shorter field one time.”
Perhaps one of the more painful moments of the game was Travis Kelce’s almost-fumble, which turned out to be an incomplete pass call. Fangio challenged this call, and he said the officiators told him they “weren’t sure,” and that it was too close.
“I thought for sure, at least on the field, it’d be a fumble,” Simmons said, “Then you go back and review it just like touchdowns or if it was close. The call was the call. We’ve got to find another way to get something like that to happen.”
Since MNF has come to a close, Week 13 is officially over and we can put it behind us, right? Denver is now focused on taking care of business when the Detroit Lions roll in to Empower.
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