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the Talking Can
11-23-2009, 07:21 AM
Let's enjoy ourselves just a minute longer.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?columnist=wojciechowski_gene&id=4680541&sportCat=nfl


By Gene Wojciechowski
ESPN.com
Archive


DENVER -- Remember the Denver Broncos?

They had a six-pack of wins to start the season. Beat the likes of Cincinnati, Dallas, New England, San Diego. Had a 3-game lead in the AFC West.

That was before the abduction. Someone replaced those Broncos with these Broncos. These Broncos play like they have an endorsement deal with Sominex. They slept through Sunday's 32-3 loss to the San Diego Chargers, and no one is sure when -- or if -- they'll ever awaken.

I'll beat the holiday rush. The Broncos are History Channel. They're done. I'm declaring them unofficially eliminated from the playoff equation with a half-dozen games remaining.

AFC West blog

Williamson ESPN.com's Bill Williamson writes about all things AFC West in his division blog.

Blog network: NFL Nation

"We definitely have to find some answers fast," said Broncos safety Renaldo Hill.

Why bother? The Broncos' record says 6-4 --wild-card material -- but their November says 0-4. The way they're playing these days, I'm surprised they didn't lose on their bye week.

The Chargers, once 2-3, have overtaken Denver in the AFC West standings. Just like they did last season. The Broncos missed the playoffs in excruciating fashion in 2008; they'll miss them in excruciating fashion in 2009.

"We knew it was a long season and things happen," said Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

This is true. For example, not every Broncos player grabbed a feather pillow and had nap time Sunday. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall's mouth was wide awake during and after the game. During the game he did a verbal scorch job on rookie running back Knowshon Moreno, whose second-quarter fumble at the Chargers' goal line cost Denver a touchdown. And afterward, Marshall aimed fingers at himself and at his teammates.

"I don't regret anything," he said. "This is a playoff game. There were guys who were on the sideline who weren't angry, who didn't have a lot of emotion and they need to look at themselves in the mirror.

"This is a game where you've got to have it."

The Broncos didn't have anything, especially it. Marshall was good for three catches and 26 yards. Moreno finished with 80 yards and that killer fumble. They had the ball nearly 16 minutes less than the Chargers.

"This is probably the most frustrating game I've played in," Marshall said. "I approached it like a playoff game."

So did the Chargers, who somehow lost to the Broncos a month ago in San Diego. But the Chargers, who have won five in a row, aren't the same team. And the Broncos, unbeaten in September and October, have misplaced their mojo.

[+] EnlargeKnowshon Moreno
Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesDenver rookie Knowshon Moreno's fumble at the goal line proved crucial.

"We can't sit back and mourn," Hill said.

Mourn, no. Yell at each other, yes.

Moreno's fumble could have cut a 13-0 Chargers lead to 13-7 at halftime. Marshall knew that, which is why he confronted the rookie.

"Maybe I handled it wrong; we'll see," Marshall said.

"Nothing big, just everyone heated," Moreno said. "Nothing long-term. Just heat of the moment."

As the afternoon temperatures dropped from the low 50s to the 30s, so did the number of Broncos fans at Invesco Field. There were blotches of empty seats as early as halftime, but the actual "I'm getting out of here" moment came late in the third quarter.

That's when the Broncos, trailing 20-3 and in full desperation mode, went for it on fourth-and-5 at the San Diego 40-yard line -- and whiffed.

Commence the evacuation.

From first place to frustration; that's the Broncos. They did it in less than a month and with stunning ease.

"I'll start as I have the last few weeks," said Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, before detailing --again -- the list of weekly errors by his team. The short version: They're shopping at Costco and buying mistakes in bulk.

At least this time the Broncos aren't waiting until the final three weeks of the season to wet themselves. Like Thanksgiving Day turkeys, the Broncos are cooked.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, the Broncos play again Thursday, this time against the New York Giants.

"It's probably the best thing about this," McDaniels said.

Sure it is. Hello, 6-5.

Then the Broncos go to Kansas City, where the Chiefs just beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Six and 6.

Then they travel to Indianapolis for a Manning-oscopy. Six and 7.

After that, they play Oakland. Seven and 7. Maybe.

A trip to Philly won't be much fun. Seven and 8.

Then the Chiefs come here. Eight and 8. Maybe.

Anyway, it won't be enough. Not with the Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins in the playoff martini shaker. And not the way the Broncos are phoning it in these days.

Actually, that's not fair. Kyle Orton and his sprained left ankle limped off the Broncos' sideline to replace starter Chris Simms with 4 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the first half. Simms was only in the lineup because Orton's ankle was the size of a state fair pumpkin. It was Simms' first start since September 2006, and he played like it.

Simms was awful. He completed 2 of 4 passes for 10 yards, was sacked twice and fumbled once before McDaniels handed him a boarding pass to the bench.

"I just didn't have the greatest day of my life," Simms said.

What does it say about the state of the Broncos when a quarterback playing on one ankle and barely any practice time is better than Simms playing on two ankles and with a full week's worth of prep time?

And yet, when asked if getting the hook in the second quarter surprised him, Simms said "I wasn't expecting it."

The Broncos think they can fix whatever is wrong. But here's the problem: They can't even articulate what's wrong. And if they could, they don't seem capable of being able to repair it.

"It's going to take all of us being honest with ourselves," Hill said.

Honestly? It's over.

Count Zarth
11-23-2009, 07:23 AM
http://i49.tinypic.com/aob449.jpg

Ronnie Cruz
11-23-2009, 07:29 AM
Did Bill Williamson just say with unwavering confidence that the Broncos will be 6-6 after playing us two weeks from now? That's awesome.

blaise
11-23-2009, 07:29 AM
Mark Sanchez thinks the Broncos early season success was over hyped.

Consistent1
11-23-2009, 07:31 AM
They do really seem to be screwed. They looked real impressive and were beating good teams. San Diego obviously was always better, so them catching up doesn't surprise me. Crazy world in the NFL...but it makes everybody here happy that Denver is suckin it up now...haha.
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Reerun_KC
11-23-2009, 07:38 AM
Mark Sanchez thinks the Broncos early season success was over hyped.

Ryan and Flacco agree....

Mile High Mania
11-23-2009, 07:41 AM
It is what it is... things are leveling out more in line with what most expected prior to the season kickoff. Heading into week 12, the Chargers lead the division. The current 0-4 streak sucks, but I'm not going to let it drive me crazy. This is a team that went through enormous change and expectations should have been set accordingly by most, they were for me.

Denver is still in the playoff chase and that's more than I expected for 2009. So, while the losing streak is ugly, the season is not over and Denver is not done.

SD and Denver are still pretty similar through 11 weeks... both lost to the Ravens and Steelers, and they split their games. Denver now has one fewer win... all is not lost.

Denver has a couple of games that they should win and a few that they will very likely lose. They should still be OAK and KC in Denver. Road games at Indy and Philly will be hard to win, along with the game at KC. The game this week vs the Giants is huge, both teams are very inconsistent right now and the Giants have their issues on defense and at RB with Jacobs hurt. So, to write off that game as a 5th loss is premature. Denver can win that game and if they do, they're at 7-4 and things are looking much better.

SD has KC, @ CLE, @ DAL, vs CIN, @ TEN and vs WAS. They should be favored to win 4 of those games.

There's a lot of football to be played... we'll see how it all ends.

SenselessChiefsFan
11-23-2009, 07:47 AM
It is what it is... things are leveling out more in line with what most expected prior to the season kickoff. Heading into week 12, the Chargers lead the division. The current 0-4 streak sucks, but I'm not going to let it drive me crazy. This is a team that went through enormous change and expectations should have been set accordingly by most, they were for me.

Denver is still in the playoff chase and that's more than I expected for 2009. So, while the losing streak is ugly, the season is not over and Denver is not done.

SD and Denver are still pretty similar through 11 weeks... both lost to the Ravens and Steelers, and they split their games. Denver now has one fewer win... all is not lost.

Denver has a couple of games that they should win and a few that they will very likely lose. They should still be OAK and KC in Denver. Road games at Indy and Philly will be hard to win, along with the game at KC. The game this week vs the Giants is huge, both teams are very inconsistent right now and the Giants have their issues on defense and at RB with Jacobs hurt. So, to write off that game as a 5th loss is premature. Denver can win that game and if they do, they're at 7-4 and things are looking much better.

SD has KC, @ CLE, @ DAL, vs CIN, @ TEN and vs WAS. They should be favored to win 4 of those games.

There's a lot of football to be played... we'll see how it all ends.

Don't worry, the Chiefs will help you guys out with SD this week. If you beat the Giants, then you will be tied again after Sunday.

Unfortunately, you have to play the Chiefs after that...and the Chargers get the Browns.

All kidding aside, there is a lot of football left to be played. I don't think the Broncos will beat the Giants. I hope the Chiefs beat the Chargers, but it would be more fun to be the team that knocks the team that Knowmo roots for all the way down to .500.

But, hopefully, the Chiefs can win both of them.... lol.

Mile High Mania
11-23-2009, 07:51 AM
Don't worry, the Chiefs will help you guys out with SD this week. If you beat the Giants, then you will be tied again after Sunday.

Unfortunately, you have to play the Chiefs after that...and the Chargers get the Browns.

All kidding aside, there is a lot of football left to be played. I don't think the Broncos will beat the Giants. I hope the Chiefs beat the Chargers, but it would be more fun to be the team that knocks the team that Knowmo roots for all the way down to .500.

But, hopefully, the Chiefs can win both of them.... lol.

It should be an interesting finish. I would think that Denver has a better shot of beating this NY team in Denver than KC has winning @ SD... but, anything can happen.

The Giants are not playing great football... they did win this week in OT, snapping their own 4 game skid. Their defense has issues and Jacobs was banged up again. Looking at the defenses, this could be a high scoring affair. We'll see.

Jack
11-23-2009, 07:56 AM
Reckon they will have a team meeting and sing kumbaya.

thawk
11-23-2009, 08:07 AM
All I can say is DIE DONKEY DIE !!!! I really dont usually enjoy somone elses strugles but in this case, after listening to all the donkey fans brag the first 6 weeks I will be happy to make an exception.

Frazod
11-23-2009, 08:12 AM
My name is frazod, and I approve of this thread. :thumb: