In 2016, the Denver Broncos played five games in which the final result was within one score — eight points or less.
In those games, the Broncos twice lost in regulation, twice won in regulation and lost in overtime once.
In the two wins, Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers and Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints, Denver managed to hold on as two kick attempts failed to win the game for the opponents.
Of the three losses, the Broncos offense couldn’t overcome fourth-quarter deficits twice — Week 6 in San Diego and Week 14 in Tennessee — and blew a late fourth-quarter lead against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 12 before losing in overtime.
Denver would finish the season at 9-7, on par with many predictions for the club this season and what many would consider “average.”
On Monday, 104.3 The Fan’s Sandy Clough said that the Broncos played like a 10-6 team for about 50 minutes and a 6-10 team for the final 10 minutes (splitting the difference between 10-6 and 9-7 or 6-10 and 7-9).
As late as 8:10 remaining in regulation, Denver held a 24-7 lead over Los Angeles. But two turnovers, a Trevor Siemian interception and a Jamaal Charles fumble, led to two quick scores for the Chargers, who would pull within three late in the fourth.
A blocked kick as time ran out would ensure the game would stay 24-21.
Clough maintains that the outcome indicates the Broncos are neither a good nor a bad team at this point, but rather an average team.
“I think a championship-contending team, a 10-6 or better team, would have won that game comfortably,” Clough said. “On the other hand, a bad team, a really genuinely bad team, would have blown that game.”
Even keeping the Chargers down by 10 points, 24-14, would have constituted a good win, Clough said.
But, there’ll be no apologies from the Broncos for squeaking out a tough, AFC West divisional victory despite the need to “finish” better.
“I’ll say this, it’s a hard league. Every win you get, especially at home in the division, it’s a good win,” head coach Vance Joseph said on Tuesday. “Absolutely, we want to finish better than that. That was sloppy and not who we want to be, but ultimately it is a win first against a really good opponent.
“Philip Rivers is a special quarterback. You give him a chance from half the field, it’s going to be a tough chore for you. A win is a win. We’ll take it. No apologies for that — none.”