It's hard to believe that just 24 hours ago, a significant percentage of Denver Broncos fans were optimistic that the squad could still make the playoffs even after a horrific 0-4 start. Beat the wounded, faltering Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football, they said, and suddenly the team would be a single W off the division lead, riding a three-game winning streak and trending in the right direction.
Oh, what a difference a day makes. After being eviscerated 30-6 before a national television audience last night, October 17, the Broncos are as irrelevant as they were in the 1960s — and the current situation is actually worse than during that nascent period. After all, there were no expectations back then, when Denver regularly racked up five victories or fewer per annum. Today, by contrast, we're just a little over three years removed from a downtown parade celebrating the Super Bowl 50 championship.
The franchise's subsequent fall explains the social-media reaction to yesterday's meet-and-greet with rock bottom (we hope). So. Much. Anger.
Prior to kickoff, upbeat prognosticators saw the Chiefs as ultra-vulnerable for a slew of reasons that made sense to the typical Broncos Kool-Aid drinker. KC had lost two straight because Patrick Mahomes, the most exciting young QB to enter the league in a decade, was struggling with an ankle injury that impeded his pocket-busting play, and the defense seemed incapable of stopping the ground attack, resulting in a time-of-possession disparity that Denver runners Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman appeared fully capable of duplicating.
That's not how it worked out. Lindsay and Freeman registered only 36 and 35 yards, respectively, forcing quarterback Joe Flacco to throw — or at least try to do so. The Chiefs' much-maligned pass rushers made the largely immobile Flacco look like a department-store mannequin amid a tsunami, just waiting for a wave to crash through the glass (i.e., the totally inept offensive line) and wash him away. He was sacked eight times and gave up a fumble for a touchdown that would have been enough to secure a triumph all by itself. The Broncos managed just six points during the first quarter (a quizzical two-point conversion try failed) and none in the three quarters that followed. Even a second-quarter injury to Mahomes didn't make a difference, since backup Matt Moore contributed a touchdown pass of his own to add to the misery.
Given last night's results, even the most passionate Broncos loyalists will be able to recognize that the team is toast. Expect conversations to shift to ancillary questions, such as: Will John Elway start trading everyone to clear salary? Could Von Miller be shipped out? Will rookie quarterback Drew Lock be put into the lineup when he gets off injured reserve? Is he the answer, or another in a long line of Elway-selected busts? Will Big John be fired? Will he quit? Will he spend his nights wandering drunk down the 16th Street Mall, crying into one of his old Super Bowl trophies?
While we wait for answers, here are our picks for the most memorable tweets about the debacle, with blame for what happened placed on everything from the curse of Tim Tebow to the Blue Mustang at Denver International Airport. Warning: Each take includes the word "fucking."
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