Arrowhead Stadium was ruckus and rowdy from the moment the ball was kicked off on Sunday night. The team’s case for being the loudest outdoor NFL stadium was substantiated as the Denver Broncos received the opening kickoff and were stymied with an early 3-and-out. Noise was a definite factor early. It had the feel of a playoff game, and, for all intents and purposes, the implications were far reaching.
Denver has been chasing the Chiefs for divisional dominance for years now, most of the time from a distance, but finally this season the gap looked to be closing. Kansas City has not been the offensive juggernaut that won Super Bowl 54, or even the team that lost Super Bowl 55. They have looked closer to a team doing just enough to maintain their AFC West primacy.
The first half of the game played out much in the way it was expected based on each team’s narrative. Kansas City landed the first haymaker scoring on their first drive of the game but Denver was able to keep it close. Unfortunately, the dam broke for the Broncos down the stretch as offensive and special teams errors marred the outcome. The Chiefs walked away victorious with a 22-9 win at home.
Teddy Bridgewater noticeably struggled, throwing two interceptions and had a few more passes that he was lucky were not picks. Vic Fangio, consistent as ever, was asked about Bridgewater’s performance and we quoted saying, “I thought Teddy did a lot of good things, we as a team did not do enough.”
It’s a sentiment what has been carried throughout the season, they win as a team and lose as a team.
The truth, or at least perceived truth, about that statement is up for debate since the Broncos defense played an extremely sound game, devoid of any significant blunders. Fangio was also asked whether he felt the Denver defense did enough for the team to win the game and responded, “I don’t want to paint that narrative that we played well enough to win. We didn’t win. We have to get more takeaways. We gave up the score there early in the game. We got to play better in all three phases.”
Defensive team leader Justin Simmons had similar comments when ask whether he felt the defense was playing closer to the way they want to, stating “I think there were some good things. This is just how I’m wired, but I don’t think we did enough to win the game. I don’t think you leave that game saying, ‘Oh, we did our part.’ We could’ve gotten one more takeaway, set our offense up on a shorter field one time. Those are the things that run through our head.”
Regardless of the opinions of fans and media members, the sentiment amongst the Broncos’ leadership is that everyone is accountable for a loss, the same way everyone is credited with a win. Whether this notion carries through will likely have more to do with wins and losses than it will individual effort.
Simmons made it very clear that this team is not giving up, noting “There’s a lot of season left. We’re going to see them again later down in the road. There’s a lot of season left and a lot of games to be played. We’re going to keep on playing and keep on fighting and do what we got to do.”