As history shows, one big win won’t necessarily save the Broncos season

Nov 12, 2021, 6:29 AM
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 07: Tim Patrick #81 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after catching the...
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

This past weekend, the Denver Broncos shocked the NFL world by blowing out the Dallas Cowboys 30-16. The Broncos, fresh off their trade of Von Miller and a 1-4 record in their previous five outings, were a heavy underdog. Instead of laying down, the Broncos dominated the Cowboys on both sides of the ball. The Cowboys never got in a rhythm.

It was Vic Fangio’s signature win as Broncos head coach. The Broncos victory over the Cowboys was so impressive there is now some optimism that the Broncos can turn this season around and make the playoffs.

With a record of 5-4, the Broncos can make a playoff push. But we need to see more. One game can’t erase what we’ve seen from this Broncos team.

Every now and then, a team gets lucky and has a dominating victory. Even the most embarrassing team in Broncos history managed to blow the doors off of an opponent.

In 2010, the Broncos had possibly their most embarrassing season. The Broncos were progressively worse each week. The Broncos would finish 2010 with the second-worst record in the NFL. However, for one week in 2010, the Broncos looked like the best team in the NFL.

In week ten the Broncos, fresh off of a bye week, prepared to play the Chiefs. Prior to the bye, the Broncos were blown out 59-14 at home to the Raiders, then lost in London to a terrible 49ers team (even after illegally filming the 49ers practices). Broncos Country was furious. Most were calling for head coach Josh McDaniels to be fired during the bye week. McDaniels wasn’t fired (yet) and the Broncos provided their second-year coach an opportunity to see it through.

The Chiefs won the AFC West and were the far better team in 2010. No one expected the Broncos to win, but once the game started, it was all Broncos. The Broncos dominated the Chiefs for four quarters. The final score was 49-29 and it wasn’t that close.

Quarterback Kyle Orton had a stat line of 22-of-34 for 296 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Broncos did not turn the ball over, while the Broncos defense forced and recovered three fumbles.

The Broncos were one of the worst teams in the NFL in 2010, while the Chiefs were a division winning playoff team. Yet, it was absolute domination by the Broncos.

This game is never talked about or even remembered by Broncos Country. How could such a one-sided beatdown over a division rival be a forgotten game? The answer is simple: The game didn’t matter.

The Broncos 2010 blowout over the Chiefs was inconsequential. The win was an anomaly. The 2010 Broncos were a bad football team and one game wasn’t going to change that. The Broncos weren’t a good team, they just happened to play great against a good team.

Within two weeks of the victory of the Chiefs, the Broncos were losing by double digits in the first half of a home game against the Rams and fans famously exited the game at halftime. Fans had lost faith. The big win over the Chiefs just two weeks previous did nothing to instill confidence in the Broncos or McDaniels.

The 2010 Broncos were bad and so was Josh McDaniels. The 49-29 win over the Chiefs proved to be meaningless when McDaniels was fired before the end of the season. McDaniels dominated his division rival and it did nothing to save his job. Perhaps ironically, McDaniels was fired after losing to that same Chiefs team later in the season.

I’m not advocating for Vic Fangio to be fired, but last week against the Cowboys was something we haven’t seen from this Broncos team. Under Fangio, a dominant victory over a decent team has happened only one time previous, a 2019 win against the Houston Texans.

Two games in three seasons isn’t enough to think the Broncos have magically figured it out. Maybe they have, but we need more evidence.

For the Broncos win over the Cowboys to matter, the Broncos must build on it. They must use it as a catalyst to more victories.

Vic Fangio was quick to pat himself on the back and take a victory lap after the game. Which was interesting because The Broncos are last in the AFC West and are not a playoff team. There is really nothing to be happy about right now. It’s fine to be optimistic, but as of now, the Broncos are more likely the team that lost four straight and only beat bad teams versus a team primed for a deep playoff run.

The victory over the Cowboys was great for players and coaches. The Broncos were the superior team that day. For now, it’s one game that is an outlier from otherwise consistent data.

If the Broncos can turn the corner and make winning a habit, we’ll look at this game as the start of something special. If the Broncos revert to their sloppy play and poor coaching, then Sunday’s win over the Cowboys will be forgotten. Just like everybody has forgotten Josh McDaniels Broncos scored 49 points on the Chiefs in 2010.


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As history shows, one big win won’t necessarily save the Broncos season