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6 things we learned from the Broncos 26-23 loss on Christmas Eve

Denver’s season all but ends on a last-second loss to the Patriots. Here’s what we learned from the defeat.

New England Patriots v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

There’s nothing like a gut punch on Christmas Eve.

Yes, the fact the Denver Broncos were even in the playoff hunt was incredible. But to have the season end in that fashion, at home, is akin to drinking spoiled eggnog.

After the 26-23 loss to the New England Patriots, the Broncos' playoff hopes are down to slim and none.

Merry Christmas, Broncos Country. Here’s what we learned.

What the hell was that offensive possession with under 3 minutes?

On two straight drives, the Broncos score two touchdowns and two two-point conversions to tie the game.

The Denver defense then forces a three-and-out.

Do the Broncos keep the same aggression to drive down the field and potentially kick a field goal? No, a screen pass that loses three yards.

The next two plays weren’t much better.

Whether Russell Wilson or Sean Payton, what the hell was that?

Maddening ineptitude in the third quarter

At every level of the field, Denver was incompetent in the third quarter.

Offense. Defense. Special teams. Coaching. That hole proved too much to overcome, like the 1-5 start to the season.

At least it was a total team effort.

Big players didn’t step up

From Wilson to Pat Surtain II, the guys who should step up in big moments failed to do so.

That is unacceptable; especially with what was on the line.

Courtland Sutton is the heart and soul of the offense

I don’t know if the result would have turned out any differently, but it would have been nice to have Sutton on the field.

It’s obvious he’s the heart and soul of the offense. For the Broncos. And his absence was sorely missed.

Denver’s tackling is atrocious

The one constant when it comes to the Broncos is piss-poor tackling. And we saw it again on Sunday night.

How a team can be so bad at a fundamental trait of the game is beyond me.

The Broncos are heading in the right direction

The loss on Christmas Eve notwithstanding, Denver is on the right track. It would have been fun to keep the drive for the playoffs alive in the next two games, but you can see the path for the first time in a long time.

Get more talent and depth, move on from some guys, and learn from this season.