KANSAS CITY, Mo. — All the worst nightmares happen in slow motion. Case in point: The Denver Broncos offense, which will make you wake in a cold sweat, pleading to the football gods to please, oh please let this 12-game losing streak to the Chiefs end.
Stop me if you’ve already seen this nightmare: Kansas City 22, Denver 9.
“A loss makes you feel empty,” coach Vic Fangio said late Sunday.
The Broncos are stuck in a recurring bad dream, painted orange and blue with 50 shades of frustration, where offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur gives them all the wrong answers to the test and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater leaves us all feeling naked and exposed at the 50-yard line of Arrowhead Stadium.
Why is Shurmur still here? If a franchise icon like linebacker Von Miller can be traded, why can’t Fangio hold Shurmur accountable for an inept offense and fire him?
And this agonizingly inept performance by Bridgewater, who threw two costly interceptions and finished with a 62.2 quarterback rating that brought back all those bad Paxton Lynch feelings, reminding us Teddy B is just good enough to lead a team to an 8-9 record and a spot in the NFL draft where it’s very difficult to find an elite quarterback in the middle of the first round.
During preparation for the biggest game played by Denver since Super Bowl 50, Bridgewater stressed the Broncos would have to be aggressive and efficient in the red zone to beat Kansas City.
“When you play a team like this, you have to get 7s,” Bridgewater said. “ You have to score seven. Three isn’t enough.”
On a night when Mahomes played like a mere mortal and the Chiefs appeared to be oh-so-beatable, the shortcomings of Bridgewater and Shurmur doomed Denver to defeat.
Trailing 10-3 with 12 minutes, 16 seconds remaining until halftime, the Broncos took possession of the football at their own 3-yard line.
The ensuing 20-play drive took longer than the last time I twiddled my thumbs while on interminable hold with my cable television provider.
And it turned out to be every bit as aggravating. So here’s another bullet point for Shurmur to put on his resume after Denver fires him. Shurmur became the first NFL offensive coordinator in more than three years to engineer a 20-play drive and come away with zero points.
Powered by running back Javonte Williams, who treats would-be tacklers like one of those inflatable Bozo bop bags that kindergarten kids knock to the ground, the Broncos marched from the shadow of their own goal line to deep in K.C. territory, converting two fourth downs along the way.
But in the red zone, a long, inspiring Denver march came to a screeching halt with head-scratching bewilderment.
Needing two yards on third down to get first-and-goal at the K.C. 6, Shurmur inexplicably called a pass play, which resulted in Bridgewater being so quickly flushed from the pocket that his only choice was to quickly heave a weak, incomplete pass out of bounds to avoid a sack. On fourth down, in a formation that screamed run, Williams got stuffed and the Denver offense walked off the field with zero points after possessing the football for more than 11 minutes.
Geez. Run the freakin’ ball, Pat.
If you are in four-down territory and require only 72 inches to move the sticks, why not pound the rock with Williams on consecutive snaps?
This loss reminded us why the Broncos can’t have nice things, much less be considered a real threat to make the playoffs.
Oh, there were signs this losing streak to the Chiefs can’t go on forever
In his first NFL start, Williams rushed for 102 yards on 23 carries and caught six passes for 76 yards.
Can somebody please explain to me why he hasn’t been the lead back for Denver all season long?
Rationalization of Melvin Gordon’s hefty salary isn’t an acceptable answer.
The Denver defense, led by another interception by rookie cornerback Pat Surtain, limited the Chiefs to 53 snaps while holding Mahomes to 184 passing yards. “We didn’t find a way to put points on the board,” Mahomes said.
After holding this K.C. team to 16 points scored by its high-powered offense, how could Denver not win? Well, here’s the obvious answer. The Denver QB is inadequate.
When he threw an interception returned 75 yards by Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Bridgewater quarterback walked to the Denver bench and held his head in his hands.
Anybody want to join his pity party?
General manager George Paton has taken good first steps in the reconstruction process of this roster. But the heaviest lifting and his toughness decisions await.
“No one is going to feel sorry for you,” Broncos safety Justin Simmons said. “The only thing that matters in this league is winning.”
Say goodbye, Mr. Shurmur. And take Teddy B with you. Please.