Yesterday's 49-23 Broncos loss to the Packers wasn't the first time Denver inspired chants of "TEEE-BOW!" on the road, but it may have been the most telling. At this point, the Broncos are so uninteresting, so unlikely to inspire the passions of longtime rooters and haters alike, that fans of every description would prefer a potentially crazy shakeup to the ongoing mediocrity.
Yes, the Broncos scored first in the game, thanks to a Matt Prater field goal. But it was clear even then that the Packers only had to turn on their offensive juggernaut and Denver would be left in the dust -- and so it was. Aaron Rodgers is playing at an incredibly high level, and he didn't look the least bit winded after passing to Jordy Nelson for one score and running for a second.
In between those two moments, Broncos QB Kyle Orton threw a perfect pass to Charles Woodson for a touchdown of his own -- one that benefited the Pack, since he was wearing green. No Tim Tebow pick-six could have been any more embarrassing.
While Orton chucked two more interceptions before the day was done, he also made a number of strong throws, once again singling out Eric Decker, who looks to be developing into the type of wide-out capable of making us glad Brandon Marshall is a Dolphin. And even though KO underthrew a second-quarter flea flicker involving Knowshon Moreno, who's more effective pretending to run than actually doing it at this point, he still managed to complete it to Brandon Lloyd. Yet he inspires little confidence or excitement. He may be a great preseason quarterback, but when the games count, he all too frequently reverts to mere adequacy.
Not that Orton was the reason the Broncos fell yesterday afternoon. The blame should be placed on the Denver defense, which at times appears to consist of Von Miller, who continues to justify his elevated draft position, and a bunch B-teamers incapable of imposing their will for more than one play in a row. The defensive line is still not generating enough of a pass rush, and against a hurler like Rodgers, that's a fatal flaw.
And the situation isn't likely to get any better. At least next week the Broncos will be lining up at home -- but against the San Diego's dickish Philip Rivers, who likes nothing more than to make the Broncos into his bitch.
No reason to believe at this point the squad will avoid that fate -- and if the Broncos are 1-4 going into their bye week, no token Tebow package of the sort that was run once on Sunday will quell the complaining. Heading into week five, it's looking as if those optimists who insisted that Denver would be better than anticipated in 2011 began pregaming a little early.
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Look below for lowlights of yesterday's game.
More from our Sports archive: "Ten slogans for the pro-Tim Tebow, anti-Kyle Orton billboard."