DENVER – In a race to remain within the chase for an AFC wild-card spot, the Denver Broncos misplaced probably the most constant participant on their offense, misplaced a recreation within the ultimate seconds and most definitely misplaced their shot on the postseason in a single extraordinarily disappointing Christmas Eve .
Large receiver Courtland Sutton left Sunday evening’s recreation towards the New England Patriots within the first quarter with a concussion and the remainder of the night did not get any higher.
Patriots rookie kicker Chad Ryland drove a 56-yard discipline by way of the frigid evening air with two seconds left and New England left with a 26-23 win at Empower Discipline at Mile Excessive.
“It is disappointing, it is a disappointing loss,” Broncos outdoors linebacker Jonathon Cooper stated. “Everybody feels it, I do know I really feel it, it sucks, man, it sucks. We have now the whole lot to play for and we did not get the job finished, it is that easy. … It’ll be arduous to take pleasure in Christmas…it was plain and easy: it wasn’t adequate.”
The loss doubtless extinguishes the Broncos’ (7-8) playoff possibilities with out triggering a whole collapse round them within the AFC. Denver is 4-6 towards AFC opponents, with video games remaining towards the Chargers and Raiders over the ultimate two weeks of the season.
“I have never calculated it but, I really feel this loss proper now,” quarterback Russell Wilson stated. “We most likely ought to have received this recreation, most likely one of the best factor we will do is get up [Monday]be with our households and return to work.”
A dismal first quarter was the turning level for the Broncos offense because it struggled mightily with out Sutton within the recreation. Denver’s first three possessions began at New England’s 6, 46 and 25 yard strains, however the Broncos got here away with simply seven factors.
The Broncos adopted that up with minus-7 web yards within the third quarter, when Wilson was sacked 5 occasions. Denver had one play within the recreation longer than 21 yards.
“Irritating recreation as a result of we had a number of possibilities, particularly within the first half; we struggled offensively,” Broncos coach Sean Payton stated. “…Our margin for error proper now is just not what it must be and we find yourself on the dropping facet of a recreation.”
Sutton tied for third within the league in receiving touchdowns this season with 10 and till a fourth-quarter rejuvenation, the Broncos had nobody to shut the deal within the pink zone as he has finished all 12 months. Within the first half, the Broncos had one reception by a large receiver: a 9-yard catch by Marvin Mims Jr.
Add all that to a 20-point third quarter from the Patriots, together with returning Mims’ fumble on a kickoff for a landing – their third of the quarter – and the recipe was there for the Broncos to additionally make their play- offs throw away hopes.
“I felt like I personally screwed up,” Mims stated. “That is a fourteen-point swing. It price us ultimately. I’ve to be higher, I do know that. On the finish of the day, I imply, issues occur, however I simply know I’ve to be higher.”
Payton stated after the sport that Sutton was formally within the concussion protocol, that means he must undergo a number of phases, together with exams by an impartial neurologist, earlier than he can totally follow or play in a recreation. The Broncos host the Chargers on Sunday.
Payton stated he would give the gamers Christmas Day and Tuesday off earlier than the workforce returns to the follow discipline on Wednesday.
The Broncos offense put collectively two lengthy landing drives – 83 and 78 yards – to tie the sport at 23-23 with 2:53 to play. After the 2 groups exchanged punts, the Patriots took over at their very own 19-yard line with 58 seconds left.
New England drove to the Broncos’ 38-yard line in six performs, aided by two timeouts referred to as by Payton to cease the clock, earlier than Ryland scored the sport winner.
The loss will doubtless lengthen the Broncos’ playoff drought to eight seasons. The workforce’s ultimate playoff recreation was the Tremendous Bowl 50 victory over the Carolina Panthers to finish the 2015 season.
“Simply dissatisfied, alternative to win an enormous recreation at dwelling. I do not know what all of the playoff stuff appears to be like like, however I do know we needed to win,” stated Broncos security Justin Simmons, the one participant on the workforce for all eight video games. these years. “… You wish to play in these kind of video games. … We did not play practically properly sufficient. I order that we now have to win the sport. I’m pleased with the workforce and the way in which we fought [back from a 1-5 start in 2023] to get up to now, however extraordinarily dissatisfied with our lack of execution.”