Although the start of the Denver Broncos' 2020-2021 season was supposed to offer a much-needed mental escape for Coloradans after more than six months of dealing with the horrific effects of COVID-19, reality turned out to be far grimmer than fantasy. Granted, seeing the squad lose to the Tennessee Titans during the final seconds of the September 14 Monday Night Football game in a manner shockingly similar to multiple defeats in 2019 was marginally better than watching public officials recite horrific statistics for three hours. But it turned out to be a closer call than anyone would have hoped.
No, the Broncos didn't deserve to win. Yet they had plenty of chances to do so, thanks to a staggering four misfires (on three field goals and an extra point) by usually reliable Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski — and their failure to do so rests squarely on the shoulders of head coach Vic Fangio, whose clock management (make that clock mismanagement) toward the end of the game inspired fans on Twitter to drop more F-bombs than the next seven Migos albums.
Starting quarterback Drew Lock had a few moments during which he justified his status as the designated future of the franchise, particularly during an early scoring march that paid off with a Buzz Lightyear-style laser to tight end Noah Fant. But he also missed not one but two wide-open receivers during a subsequent drive that petered out on the one-yard line, and his inability to maintain any offensive momentum after the Broncos took the lead on a fourth-quarter score by Melvin Gordon (making up for an earlier fumble) set fans up for the agony to come.
The Titans' twelve-play, 83-yard matriculation down the field was capped by Gostkowski's 25-yard three-pointer with just seventeen seconds to go — far fewer than should have been available. Fangio had three timeouts, but inexplicably chose not to use them until it was way too late, leaving Lock and company with no realistic chance to do anything other than trudge to the locker room again covered with the stink of failure.
Social media users reacted to Fangio's inaction with profanities aplenty — and that was appropriate, since the Broncos had taken their minds off the pandemic in the worst possible way.
Continue to count down our picks for the twenty most memorable post-game tweets:
Fuck Fangio!! A young talented team trying hard and you can't manage the clock!!!— Pablo_Underwood (@pchua85) September 15, 2020
I’m so fucking pissed man FUCK. @Broncos please pay me to manage the clock at the end of games. 75.5k a year and I’ll call timeouts with 1:30+ on the clock when the other team is in field goal range to take the lead since Vic can’t. https://t.co/YdISkc4ryL— CoCoe (@CjRobinson009) September 15, 2020
My head:— Kat (@KatKawaZX10R) September 15, 2020
Fuck in 1 hour you have to go to work
Also my head:
Uh there is
holy fkn shit. i deadass am abt to blow my brains out. how tf do the broncos lose this game? HOW IN THE ACTUAL FUCK— chaz?? (@RiizingIcey) September 15, 2020
How do you go away from Fant after having a monster first half? None of the deep throws felt like they had any chance at all. New season, new "weapons" on offense, same bland as fuck @Broncos I can't stress how fucking pissed, and disappointed I am right now. #BroncosCountry— Willis (@WillisInChains) September 15, 2020
Bro how the fuck do we lose? 3 missed field goals and shitty time management man. Broncos we finna have a long season— Edgar (@simental_edgar) September 15, 2020
What the fuck Fangio. I play Madden and I know better. C'mon dude. Don't call no timeouts and don't try to kick with the guy you just paid for the next 4 years. Great job.... @Broncos @johnelway #MNFxESPN #BroncosCountry— Jake Eighmy (@The970G) September 15, 2020
@Broncos First question in Fangio press conference , “What the fuck were you thinking?”— WuCrew86 (@WuCrew86) September 15, 2020
FUCK THE BRONCOS AND THE TITANS GOD DAMNIT— covid survivin, jet flyin son of a gun (@BigxEasy) September 15, 2020
I just wanna take this time to say fuck the Denver Broncos forever.— Raul (@N7_Null) September 15, 2020
Fuck. Can’t even get a happy 4 hours of sleep. Now I gotta go to bed all pissed n shit— Bad News Broncos (@BadNewsBroncos) September 15, 2020
@Broncos @johnelway fuck this team. All the hype is talk. Out coached outplayed. Simmons cant cover shit but hey timeouts were saved. Bad organization all around to joke of the owner. Whoever the fuck that is— rob (@rob01756703) September 15, 2020
This is why people believe the NFL is fixed. Broncos don’t run clock with 4 minutes left up by 1. Then don’t use any timeouts with 1:30 left to stop clock. Instead let them kick a field goal to go down with 17 seconds? Fuck let me coach the Broncos, even I could do better.— GoPackGo (@nippleb0y) September 15, 2020
What the fuck was Fangio thinking? The broncos didn’t deserve to win anyways. Dropped passes, a turnover, Drew Lock missing open receivers— Amal J (@AmalJamal__) September 15, 2020
Fangio straight fucked us! What the actual fuck! #Broncos— anthony mesa (@anthonymvze) September 15, 2020
yeah no fuck the broncos i'm not gonna do this to myself for another year. i'd rather have the fucking dry heaves than see some fucking mental gaff cost denver the game in the last fifteen seconds week after week— peter pansy 1312 (@strikerebel) September 15, 2020
@Broncos— CoyoteDeMuerte (@CoyoteDeMuerte) September 15, 2020
Only Denver can lose after the opposing team misses fucking 4 field goals. Vic WE NEED MORE THAN 30 FUCKING SECONDS TO MOUNT A COMEBACK. Fuck dude!!!
Fuck Human Nutrition, Fuck the Broncos, and Fuck 2020. Goodnight— Sierra Gonzales (@_roseeeeeeeee_) September 15, 2020
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.