Take two aspirin. Maybe call in sick. Our boys in Orange had a perfect NFL Sunday in Colorado ruined by the scoreboard after being crushed 23-7 by Baltimore, consider our sweet officially stern. And nothing makes this city as serious as a Broncos hangover.
“Extremely disappointing,” said Denver security Justin Simmons. “We know how important it was. We knew what the stakes were.”
The Broncos ran to Empower Field at Mile High, all pumped and undefeated, ready to declare they were back as legitimate contenders after a five-year playoff drought. A little more than three hours later, the same player was seen disappointed and beaten up.
Speaking for All Broncos Country, offensive tackle Garrett Bowles said: “I’m furious.”
Looking sad and desperate as a kid who lost his teddy bear, quarterback Drew Locke took Denver back, where none of us ever wanted to go again, back to the bad, old days of 2020, when Football took a toll on everyone in town.
“I know being quarterback for this team is an overwhelming job,” said Locke, after a former starter was forced off the bench at halftime after a concussion forced Teddy Bridgewater out of the game. .
No teddy, no hope. He was this team’s bridge over turbulent waters. That was why optimistic fans were willing to believe that a 3-0 start against ill-fated NFL foes might actually be a reason to get excited.
When the volume is cranked up to 10, the passion of the bronchomaniacs can not only be heard, but can also be felt in the bones. As Baltimore’s Justin Tucker kicked off the biggest game for the franchise since Super Bowl 50, more than 74,000 cheering and stumping fans made such a beautiful noise that the stadium began to vibrate beneath their feet.
Then, on a 76-degree afternoon without a cloud in the Colorado sky, all the sunshine was gone. And when Bridgewater was injured, Spirit walked out of the stadium. Unless he recovered quickly, this loss would count more than the three wins Denver earned at the start of the season.
Although the Broncos scored first, taking a 7–0 lead in the second quarter on a three-yard touchdown throw from Bridgewater tormented Noah Feint, each time the veteran quarterback dropped back to pass, a sense of dread was created. The offensive line, missing wounded guards Dalton Risner and Graham Glasgow, could not keep Bridgewater safe from the relentless pressure applied by Baltimore’s defense.
Bridgewater stood tall and boldly endured the hits until he got smacked on his last pass attempt before halftime, slobbered out by Ravens linebacker Odafe Owe. The way Bridgewater descended the field was reminiscent of a shaken boxer looking for a neutral corner, hoping to save him by ending the bell round.
“I saw Teddy on the ground and he was not feeling well,” Boles said.
When the Broncos returned to the field after halftime, the team’s spiritual leader remained in the locker room. After being evaluated by medical personnel, Bridgewater was deemed unfit to play.
The wheels of the Broncos bandwagon fell.
“It got crappy,” Fant said.
When Locke entered Denver in the third quarter with 13 minutes, 21 seconds remaining, the crowd was too stunned to cheer, so the QB who had lost his job to Bridgewater during training camp erupted into an uneasy murmur of disbelief. was greeted with
For Locke, it was absolutely no vote of confidence by the orange-clad patrons. We have seen this film before. Playing fast and furious, Locke only knows how to play at one speed: reckless.
Locke dodges the football and later apologizes. Case in point: Denver trails 17-7, but with plenty of time to return in the second half, receiver Cortland Sutton blew the top off Baltimore’s defense, breaking open ground 40 yards away.
A sensible quarterback would have recognized the situation immediately, put a little air under the football and celebrated a touchdown. Lock? He held back like a young man trying to impress his date by knocking on all the jugs of milk in the middle of the state fair, and stacked an impromptu fastball 10 feet ahead of Sutton’s outstretched arms.
“I have to give him a chance to catch the football,” said Locke, who completed less than 60% of his 21 passes for 113 yards. He also threw a mindless interception, providing yet another sinister sense of deja vu from 2020. His QB rating was 52.3, a failing grade, even with a first-team offense during practice without the benefit of working for backup.
“We can’t,” said Broncos coach Vic Fangio, “have a hangover from this game.”
Speak for yourself, Uncle Vic.
The mourning following the Broncos’ defeat in a big game is enough to make even a dying fan hide under the covers and wonder if this team will ever be worthy of Super Bowl dreams again.