It set up like a fairytale for Brock Osweiler and the Denver Broncos.

Once thought to be the future of the franchise and the successor to Peyton Manning, Osweiler’s NFL journey instead led him through a whirlwind of transactions that included a lucrative deal with the Houston Texans, being dealt to (and cut by) the Cleveland Browns before once again taking charge under center for the Broncos.

On Sunday, Broncos fans were reminded that fairy tales rarely come true in the NFL. The Broncos’ most recent loss to the Cincinnati Bengals all but cemented that for Osweiler.

Against a Bengals defense that was missing multiple players, Osweiler showed that he is nothing more than a transition for the Broncos and that the future of the quarterback position lies elsewhere.

Osweiler finished the game 23-of-42 for 254 yards and a touchdown, which don’t seem too bad at first glance. However, Osweiler also had an ugly interception in the red zone early in the first quarter that flipped momentum just moments after his team had forced a blocked punt.

Osweiler threw the errant pass right to Bengals’ cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who returned the interception 100 yards to the Broncos’ goal line. The Bengals would score a touchdown three plays later.

Osweiler was much sharper afterwards, leading the Broncos on 75-yard drives on two separate occasions — including one in which he passed for all 75 yards gained. But outside of those two drives, Osweiler simply played sub-par football.

Osweiler consistently held the ball far too long, resulting in either a sack or Osweiler being flushed from the pocket and forced to throw the ball away. When he did have time in the pocket, Osweiler was hit-or-miss throwing the ball downfield, as many of his passes were either knocked down, deflected or almost picked off.

Padding Osweiler’s stats were consistent check-down passes to running back Devontae Booker, who finished second on the team with five catches for 54 yards. No Broncos receiver reached even 65 yards receiving; Demaryius Thomas led the team with 64.

Perhaps the dagger in Osweiler’s time as the Broncos’ starting quarterback, and the Broncos’ season, was the Broncos’ final possession late in the fourth quarter.

After a defensive stand, the Broncos offense had a chance to drive down the field and tie the game with a field goal. Osweiler’s chance to be the hero in Denver had finally come, as he and the offense had the opportunity to keep the Broncos’ sliver of playoff hopes alive.

Instead, Osweiler’s first down pass ended up incomplete. He followed that with a seven-yard sack on second down. He targeted Emmanuel Sanders in heavy coverage on fourth and four, only to have the pass be short and disrupted, effectively ending the game.

Osweiler plays with grit and passion; anyone watching a Broncos game can clearly see it. However, heart and grit are not going to put wins on the board.

At the end of the day, scoring 17 points in front of a home crowd against a previously 3-6 team simply isn’t going to cut it for the Broncos.

With the season all but lost, the 3-7 Broncos will likely begin to play former first rounder Paxton Lynch, who is finally healthy after a shoulder injury suffered in the preseason. The Broncos will need to see if Lynch has the makings of a franchise quarterback before making a decision on the position heading into the 2018 offseason.

Head coach Vance Joseph was non-committal postgame about Lynch getting the start moving forward, but one can safely assume that no matter who starts for the rest of 2017, it’s getting less and less likely that the Broncos’ 2018 starting quarterback isn’t currently on the roster.