Initial thoughts from Broncos’ 22-16 overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 11 at Empower Field at Mile High:
Kendall Hinton, the No. 1 receiver we deserve: Forget all the Klint Kubiak talk. The real reason the Broncos broke their first-possession touchdown drought? More Kendall Hinton. (We kid, but only a little). With the two-year anniversary of the infamous No Quarterback Game just one week away, Hinton showed off the athleticism that made him capable of being an emergency backup quarterback in the first place with a 32-yard catch-and-run that probably should’ve been a touchdown (at least on principle).
End-of-half meltdown: You can call all the right plays, Klint, but that still won’t keep Melvin Gordon from fumbling footballs (it’s sort of his thing). Why the Broncos continue to give the veteran running back a chance to hand the other team the football is one of the world’s great mysteries. That Gordon’s goal line fumble was immediately followed by Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby blocking Brandon McManus’ chip-shot field goal to end the first half feels like poetic justice. The Football Gods will not allow such insolence.
Third quarter blues: Another of the world’s great mysteries: What exactly do the Broncos do at halftime? Wordle? Orange slices? One thing we’re almost dead certain they do not do: Make effective halftime adjustments. We’re 10 games into this thing, and the Broncos offense is now averaging one point (1.0) per third quarter. The damage on Sunday: 18 plays, 52 yards, zero points. Although, to be fair, their last third-quarter drive ended with Brandon McManus’ 52-yard field goal to start the fourth. Or, to put it another way, half Denver’s point total in the second half.
New play-caller, same bad end-of-game decisions: How do the Broncos keep making the same bad decisions? Much like the end of regulation vs. the Colts, when Russell Wilson threw at a time that three runs and a field goal would’ve sufficed, the Broncos elected to pass on third-and-10 though the Raiders were out of timeouts after the two-minute warning. Wilson then compounded the mistake by throwing the ball away, gifting Las Vegas 40 seconds. That the defense folded on successive drives — for a game-tying field goal, and game-winning TD in OT — should be called out. But asking your defense to rescue you over and over again is not a very good plan.