MERILATT MONDAY

The Broncos are about to go on a seven-game winning streak

Sep 12, 2022, 10:38 PM | Updated: Sep 13, 2022, 10:47 am
Russell Wilson...
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

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Well, it won’t be a boring week in Denver. After the Broncos dropped a heartbreaker in Seattle, falling 17-16 in their season opener, a lot of people will be rushing for the panic button, looking for someone to blame.

To some extent, it’s understandable. After all, the Broncos beat themselves on Monday night.

Twelve penalties for 106 yards? Inexcusable.

Four trips into the red zone, with a grand total of six points scored, because of two fumbles at the one-yard line? Embarrassing.

The decision to settle for a 64-yard field goal instead of trying to convert a fourth-and-five with Russell Wilson at quarterback? Questionable, to say the least.

All will be discussed. All should be talked about, dissected and debated.

But at the end of the day, those things obscure the big picture. They detract from what was really learned at Lumen Field.

The Broncos are good. They’re dang good.

Yep, that’s right. In a 17-16 loss to a team that will probably end up with a top-10 pick, Denver showed that they’re a much-improved, ready-for-primetime team.

That was Seattle’s Super Bowl. The building was jumping. There was an incredible energy. It was electric.

The Seahawks reaction after the game proves as much. They won the battle, but they’re about to lose the war, and they know it.

Enjoy the celebration, Pete. Talk trash now, Shelby. Enjoy 6-11.

Meanwhile, the Broncos are destined for the mirror image of that record. This is an 11-6 team. And they’re about to go on a run.

By the time Russell Wilson and company get on a plane to return from their trip to London, they’ll be 7-1. The schedule sets up well. But the bigger factor is the team.

First of all, they dominated the game against the Seahawks. The Broncos won the total yardage battle 433-253. Seattle got seven first downs off of penalties.

Denver ran the ball well, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. And they threw it well, with Wilson finishing 29-42 for 340 yards and a touchdown in his orange-and-blue debut.

They simply were stung by bad luck. Before Melvin Gordon fumbled on fourth-and-goal from the one, he was stopped inches from the end zone. On the play prior to Javonte Williams’ fumble at the at the one, Albert Okwuegbunam was stopped inches from pay dirt. Down 17-13, the Broncos had to settle for a field goal when Eric Tomlinson’s toe was an inch out of the end zone and a would-be touchdown was waved off by a false start. And finally, Brandon McManus missed a game-winning, 64-yard field goal by inches.

It was agonizing. The Broncos were on the doorstep of victory all night, but couldn’t cross the threshold.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a moral victory. But that doesn’t mean positives can’t be gleaned in defeat.

Denver moved the ball all night. They punted one time. Once.

They also stymied the Seahawks in the second half. Seattle had 44 total yards after halftime.

Contrast that to previous years, when Denver couldn’t make any adjustments. On Monday night, they found answers during intermission. It was impressive.

So was their ability to get off the field late in the game. After having to settle for a field goal to cut it to 17-16, the Broncos defense forced a three-and-out to give Wilson a chance to win it late. In that exact situation, Denver couldn’t get a key stop during the last three years. That’s a big change.

That’s because Ejiro Evero’s defense flew around. They made plays. They were aggressive. Sure, they gave up some chunk yards early. But they were great in the second half. It was the best performance by a Broncos defense in the third and fourth quarter of a game in quite some time.

It was highlighted by Bradley Chubb. The much-maligned outside linebacker had a very good night, recording six tackles, two sacks and two tackles for a loss in his first game back fully healthy after multiple injury-filled seasons.

On the other side of the ball, other stars shined. Jerry Jeudy had a 67-yard touchdown, one more score than he had all of last season. He finished the night with 102 yards receiving. Javonte Williams had a team-high 11 catches, putting up 108 combined yards on the night. And Wilson converted some key third downs, showing the ability to extend plays and throw darts.

It was enough to win. More than enough.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Everything that could go wrong did. The Seahawks got every bounce. They got every break. They got every call.

It’s why they were destined to win the game. It was their big night. They can have it.

The Broncos are headed for bigger and better things. They’re better in every way, shape and form than they’ve been in recent years.

Find solace in that today, Broncos Country. What was on display last night is destined for a bunch of wins.

Denver will pound Houston on Sunday. They’ll beat an inexperience Trey Lance and the 49ers a week later. Then, they go into Las Vegas and play in front of a stadium half filled with Broncos fans to move to 3-1.

Then, the get the Colts on a short week in Denver, catching a break with a home Thursday nighter. A trip to the play the Chargers in Los Angeles 11 days later will be tough, but that’ll be another friendly crowd. That’s followed by the Jets at home and the Jaguars in London.

Win. Win. Win. Win. Win. Win. Win.

Sounds too good to be true? Hey, a certain someone picked the Seahawks last night. Have a little faith.

It stings, Broncos Country. But don’t worry. The season is far from over.

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