It’s all over but the game checks for the Denver Broncos.
With the Tennessee Titans’ win over the New York Giants on Sunday, pushing them to 8-6, the Broncos officially have been eliminated from postseason contention. The result comes less than 24 hours after Denver suffered a brutal home loss to the Cleveland Browns, which dropped the club to 6-8 and ensured a non-winning record for the second straight year.
“Our team’s resilient,” head coach Vance Joseph said. “We’ll go back to work on Monday and play good football next week. It’s going to be a long week so we’ll have plenty of time to get some guys back. We’re looking forward to that, getting two or three more guys back off the injured list.”
The Broncos faced slim odds of cracking the tournament as it was. But consecutive defeats to subpar competition magnified Joseph as an incompetent captain steering a doomed ship. Getting outcoached by Kyle Shanahan is one thing; Gregg Williams schooling you is quite another.
Such was the case Saturday at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, where the aggressive Browns — still alive in the hunt, somehow — swarmed a fracturing Denver squad, clawing their way to 17-16 squeaker.
The final score might’ve looked different had Joseph not opted for a field goal on 4th-and-1 late in the fourth quarter. He wanted his defense to force a punt and the offense to kick another field goal. Neither side was successful as Cleveland bled the clock before giving it back to Keenum, who was sacked on a 4th-and-10 from midfield.
Game over. Season over. The worst kind of deja vu.
“It’s just like every loss,” linebacker Von Miller said. “We go into every game to win the game. When you lose, it’s definitely devastating, especially when you lose home games. This is everything for us. Mile High Stadium, the fans, they’re everything for us. When you go out and lose by one point in a tough one, it’s definitely tough. We’ve got a resilient group of guys in there and we’ll be right back on Monday working hard. Whatever opportunity we get, and even if we don’t have an opportunity, we’re still going to play hard and we’re still going to be the type of team that we know we can be. We’re still going to play tough.”
Denver will hit the road to face the Oakland Raiders on Christmas Eve before finishing at home against the Los Angeles Chargers. Another loss, a distinct possibility, clinches back to back losing campaigns for the first time since 1972.
Joseph is tentatively expected to be fired at year’s end.