No one was expecting the hapless, boring, and predictable Denver Broncos to put up anything close to a fight vs. the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs, and for most of the first half, the team did nothing to dispel those lack of expectations.
QB Russell Wilson threw a pick six with just over four minutes left in the first half to make the score Kansas City 27, Denver 0, and once again, it seemed like more of the same. A terrible offensive performance led by the QB worth $245 million is what fans have come to expect, so no one should feel an ounce of guilt if they tuned out following this moment.
Just know that if you did check out, you missed the Broncos looking...dare I say...competent for the first time all year. Competent? Hell, they were downright productive.
Wilson, for at least one game, looked like the player the Broncos thought they were getting in the offseason. After the pick six, he would complete 15 of 21 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns before leaving the game with a concussion.
“He was fighting the whole game,” head coach Nathaniel Hackett said about Wilson after the game. “I give him so much credit. No matter the situation. We will go through the step-by-step process and do it the right way.”
Brett Rypien entered the game and showed some grit, but in the end, he was no match to complete the comeback, as the Broncos ultimately fell 34-28.
It’s a tough one to stomach, even if the season was already lost (well, it is “officially” now, but the playoffs would have taken a miracle). It goes right in line with the “this is why we can’t have nice things” narrative that this season has taken. The concussion to Wilson was a gut punch to every Broncos fan who just wanted any reason to feel happy, empty as it may be.
For a team that has looked like such garbage this season, no one should point any fingers at anyone playing the moral victory card, but in the end, it’s still a loss, it’s still a double-digit number of losses, and the Broncos have lost to Kansas City 14 straight times.
Hackett spoke proudly of his team’s effort but reiterated that it’s fool’s gold without the victory.
“The goal is to win,” he said when asked about the comeback effort. “When we were down 27-0, guys had a choice. They didn’t blink. They stayed together.”
If there’s anything to take from this, it’s that maybe the Russell Wilson era doesn’t have to be such a lost cause after all. The question becomes, was this a Toby Keith “I’m not as good as I once was but I’m as good once as I ever was” situation? Or is he finding his old magic?
The remainder of the year should give us a much better answer, but in the meantime, the Broncos will have to face the reality of being 3-10, and despite the hearty performances from the team, it’s still another loss at the end of the day.