MERILATT MONDAY

Russell Wilson doesn’t deserve all of the blame for Sunday’s loss

Dec 4, 2023, 4:00 AM | Updated: 12:22 pm


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Welp. That was a bummer.

There might be more poetic ways to say it. Perhaps an improvement in prose is possible. But it doesn’t change the meaning.

The Broncos falling eight yards short of a stirring, come-from-behind win in Houston was a buzzkill. Their winning streak is over. Their playoff chances are diminished. Their hope was squelched.

At 6-6, Denver is still “in the hunt.” They probably need to win four out of their last five games to make the playoffs. But that’s not why the loss stung so much.

It’s all about what could’ve been. And it has nothing to do with wins and losses.

Russell Wilson was on the verge of pulling off a huge victory on the road. He was about to rally his team from a 22-10 deficit to earn the biggest win the franchise had enjoyed in years. He was on the cusp of engineering an 80-yard drive to catapult the Broncos into a playoff run.

And in the process, he would’ve quieted the critics. He would’ve silenced the incessant chatter about his future in Denver.

Russ would’ve been the answer. Case closed.

That moment is why the Broncos traded for the quarterback. His clutch gene was why they gave up four draft picks and three players.

It’s not about stats. It’s about wins. And in particular, it’s about big wins, in huge games, in tough spots.

Wilson was about to do it. He converted a fourth-and-two to keep the Broncos alive. He had them on the precipice.

Then, it all fell apart. Wilson threw an interception in the end zone on third down, his third pick of the game.

Game. Set. Match.

As a result, Wilson is going to get the blame today. He’s the quarterback; that’s to be expected.

But he wasn’t at fault. At least not on that play.

Garett Bolles whiffed on his block. Wilson had zero time to throw. He couldn’t take a sack in the waning seconds with no timeouts. So he tried to make a play.

He escaped. And he threw up a jump ball.

The Broncos should’ve had a shot. They didn’t.

Lucas Krull couldn’t make a play. He got outjumped by Jimmie Ward. The 6-foot-6 player was bested by the one who checks in at 5-foot-11.

The moment epitomizes the Broncos right now.

Wilson will get the blame. But his left tackle missed a block. And he’s throwing to a guy who most people didn’t even know was on the roster.

In the biggest game since Super Bowl 50, the Broncos had Lucas Krull in the game with nine seconds remaining. That’s hard to believe.

With a playoff berth potentially on the line, Denver’s high-priced offensive lineman was a no-show. That’s unacceptable.

At the biggest moment, the Broncos couldn’t draw up a play that got anyone open on three shots into the end zone. That’s on Sean Payton.

Blame Russ. That’ll be the norm today. But that’s looking in the wrong direction.

Who would’ve made a play in that situation? What quarterback would’ve pulled it off with Bolles whiffing and Krull on the receiving end?

Those are the questions to ask. Sunday might’ve sealed Wilson’s fate in Denver. Not pulling off the victory could’ve effectively ended his tenure with the Broncos.

Perception is reality. And the near-miss suggests that Wilson doesn’t have it any more. The magic is gone.

In reality, the QB is trying to soar like an eagle while flying with a bunch of turkeys. Blame Bolles. Blame Krull. Blame Payton.

This one wasn’t on Russ. But he will get the blame anyway. And he might get run out of town as a result.

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