There is no sugarcoating this one. The Broncos’ 30-23 loss to the Bills on Sunday was as tough as they come. Everything was right there for the taking: an AFC West title, a playoff berth and a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
But the Broncos stumbled against a team that entered the game with a 6-8 record, had lost seven of its last eight games and was out of the playoff race.
In many ways, the loss to the Bills was the season in microcosm.
– Denver jumped out to a 13-0 lead but it could have been bigger than that. Twice the Broncos settled for field goals after getting deep into Buffalo territory. By the end of the game, the Broncos scored two touchdowns and two field goals in six trips inside the Bills’ twenty yard line. As several players said after the game, that isn’t good enough.
– The Broncos committed two costly turnovers. One came on a Brandon Marshall fumble, the other when Kawika Mitchell intercepted Cutler at the Buffalo two yard line as Denver was trying to tie the game.
– The Broncos’ gave up valuable field position to the Bills, especially on kickoff coverage. After tying the game at 23 on Matt Prater’s 43 yard field goal with 11:03 left in the game, the Broncos’ let Fred Jackson get loose for a 30 yard kickoff return that set the Bills up at the Broncos’ 45 yard line. Four plays later, Jackson scored what turned out to be the go-ahead touchdown on an 8-yard run.
– Once the Bills got going, the Broncos’s defense could not stop them. Buffalo scored on six consecutive possessions to make that 13-0 deficit seem like ancient history.
– The Broncos were statistically superior to the Bills, outgaining them 532 yards to 275. But the turnovers and poor special teams coverage rendered that advantage meaningless.
At this point in the season, it’s simply about winning. That’s all. The Broncos could not do that at home against a sub-.500 team on Sunday. Everything was right there for the taking.
Now, they have the unenviable task of going on the road to face a rejuvenated Chargers’ team that trampled the Buccaneers with 21 fourth quarter points in a 41-24 victory.
The two teams will wage their battle for the AFC West title in front of a national television audience on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
It is all still right there for the taking. But now the taking will be much more difficult. There is no way to sugar coat that.
What are your thoughts about the Broncos-Chargers game? Can the Broncos go to San Diego and get it done? As always, thanks for reading and sharing your posts.
Have a great week and a blessed Christmas/Holiday week.