This week NFL.com writer Adam Rank endeavored to boil down the seasons of all 32 NFL teams down to just one play.
The play that summed up the 2018 Broncos? One as ugly as the team’s second straight losing season: Oakland Raiders Dwayne Harris returning a punt 99 yards for a touchdown after Denver failed to down it at the 1-yard line.
WHAT A PLAY.
Dwayne Harris goes 99 YARDS for a punt return TD! #RaiderNation
— NFL (@NFL) December 25, 2018
But when reflecting upon the 6-10 campaign, “Stokley and Zach” co-host Brandon Stokley had a different take, saying the Broncos’ season-defining play happened the week previous.
“The Cleveland Browns game. That was the defining moment of this football season,” Stokley said, specifically Denver not going for it on fourth-and-1 at the six-yard line down 17-13.
“You’re back at home and you have a chance to win that football game, and you elect to be cautious and play it safe and take the conservative route when you’d been really aggressive,” Stokley said.
The Broncos opted to kick a field goal, to go down 17-16, and hope for a stop, which they wouldn’t get, on the ensuing Browns drive.
Then-head coach Vance Joseph defended the decision after the game, saying he wanted to “take points” at that point in the game.
“I wanted points there. We had about 4:35 to go in the game and we had one timeout and the two-minute warning. I trust our defense to get a stop there,” Joseph said. “If we don’t get points there, a touchdown has to win it. It was my decision to take points.”
However, just about a month prior to that remark, Joseph defended going for it on fourth-and-1 against the Los Angeles Chargers in the second quarter of a Week 11 matchup, saying he’d “do it again.
“I told our guys that—fourth-and-1, we’re going to go for it.”
Said Stokley: “And then a few weeks later you don’t go for it. Who are you as a coach?
Denver’s 17-16 loss to Cleveland would be just the second of four straight to finish the season, after which Joseph was dismissed as the head coach.
Follow digital content producer Johnny Hart on Twitter: @JohnnyHart7.
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