MERILATT MONDAY

Ugly loss to the Ravens won’t be the low point for sad-sack Broncos

Dec 5, 2022, 6:00 AM | Updated: 9:20 am
russell wilson...
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

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It can’t get any worse. This has to be rock bottom. There isn’t anywhere lower to go.

Right?

Nope. The Broncos found a way to be even more pitiful on Sunday, hitting a new low point in an already disastrous season.

Denver fell 10-9 at Baltimore, surrendering the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute and then missing a 63-yard field goal on the final play. But the gut-punch ending doesn’t even begin to explain why the game was such a downer.

The Broncos offense managed just nine points against the Ravens. It was the fourth time this season, one out of every three games, that they’ve failed to reach double digits.

Denver settled for three Brandon McManus field goals, two of which came from 50 yards and beyond. They never sniffed the end zone. The Broncos didn’t run a single offensive play in the red zone, only passing Baltimore’s 30-yard line one time.

In a season that has been filled with terrible offense, Sunday was the worst performance of the year by Denver in that phase. It was ugly. It was awful. It was anemic.

As the 2022 campaign rolls along, the Broncos are getting worse. The promise of the season opener, when Denver racked up 433 yards of total offense, seems like a distant, distant memory. Nothing they do is working.

The Broncos have scored three touchdowns since Halloween. They’ve scored 10 offensive points or less in six of their 12 games. They haven’t won in the United States since September.

Jerry Rosburg was brought it to help the team on game days. They’re 2-8 since he was hired.

Klint Kubiak was given play-calling duties in order to jumpstart the offense. The Broncos have scored 35 points in the three games he’s been dialing up the scheme.

Denver scored just nine points in a loss to the Colts earlier this season. But they had 375 yards of offense in that game.

They scored just nine with Brett Rypien at quarterback against the Jets. But they racked up 324 totals yards in the loss.

Sunday was worse than both of those dreadful performances. On the day, the Broncos managed just 272 yards. They only had 12 first downs.

“We’ve got to be better, and it starts with coaching,” Nathaniel Hackett said after the game. “We have got to execute. We have to do everything better on offense.”

Week after week, it’s the same message from the head coach. Hackett’s words are hollow at this point; they’re meaningless noise. His inability to correct the problems have made them so.

Earlier in the season, the Broncos were at least “almost” scoring touchdowns. They were close to breaking through, knocking on the door. Now, they aren’t anywhere near it.

“There’s a lot of good things there, but we have to find ways to score touchdowns,” Russell Wilson said in his postgame press conference. “This game is about touchdowns and finding a way to win.”

Right now, the Broncos can’t do either thing. They’ve lost eight out of nine games. They’ve scored 14 touchdowns in 12 contests. They’re averaging a league worst 13.8 points per game.

And they’re trending in the wrong direction. The Broncos have been bad all season. They were at their worst on Sunday.

Yet, nothing will change. Hackett will remain the head coach. Wilson will continue to be the starting quarterback. Status quo is the norm at Dove Valley.

Perhaps it’s because they think they’re close, citing the seven one-score losses as an example. The Broncos are delusional if they believe that, however.

The loss to the Ravens proved that fact. Sure, Denver had a chance to win the game. But once again, they found a way to lose. That’s what bad teams do.

Things aren’t getting better. They’re getting worse.

And while the debacle in Baltimore feels like rock bottom, things could continue to go downhill. Kansas City comes to Denver on Sunday, on the heels of a loss to Cincinnati. The Chiefs are suddenly in a dogfight for the No. 1 seed in the AFC; they might beat the Broncos by 30.

The loss to the Ravens was ugly. But as hard as it is to believe, it’s about to get uglier.

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