Denver Broncos fans have grown so accustomed to unhappy endings this season that the outcomes of the past two games have left some loyalists giddily dizzy. First, there was last week's victory over the Los Angeles Chargers and much-loathed quarterback Philip Rivers. Then, on November 25, the squad goaded Pittsburgh Steelers QB and future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger into making the face seen above, by way of an unlikely Shelby Harris end-zone interception that cemented a 24-17 win.
Afterward, Broncos boosters on Twitter began debating whether the playoffs are a reasonable possibility —despite a 5-6 record and the likelihood that Denver will have to run the table by winning its last five games to make this dream come true.
Before you dismiss such a prospect out of hand, consider evidence from yesterday:
After a sluggish start to their 2018-2019 campaign, the Steelers have been on a roll, notching six straight Ws coming into the face-off against the Broncos and convincing commentators such as Tony Romo, who provided color on the CBS Sunday broadcast, that they're the most complete team in the AFC. Yet the Broncos' defense picked Roethlisberger twice (the first came courtesy of the brilliant Chris Harris Jr.) and recovered a James Conner fumble caused by cornerback Bradley Roby, who'd earlier given up yet another mammoth touchdown pass (snared by JuJu Smith-Schuster, it covered 97 yards).
Broncos quarterback Case Keenum took advantage of these opportunities with plenty of help from super-rookie Phillip Lindsay, who became the first running back to gash Pittsburgh for 100 yards on the ground this season. And while Roethlisberger could have tied the score late and headed to overtime with momentum, Harris made sure that didn't happen.
Denver's remaining schedule is less daunting than the gauntlet through which the players have just passed. Next they square off against the Cincinnati Bengals, whose starting quarterback, Andy Dalton, injured his thumb yesterday — and from there, the Broncos will play the mediocre San Francisco 49ers, the improving Cleveland Browns, the woeful Oakland Raiders and the Chargers again.
All of these games are winnable, and even if the Broncos lose one of them, 9-7 might get them into the playoffs. Absolutely everything has to go right for that to happen, but the door to the post-season isn't entirely closed — and that's a pleasant surprise in and of itself.
Continue to count down our picks for the twenty most memorable tweets about the chances for more Denver triumphs, capped by a hilarious take from someone who clearly doesn't have a high opinion of Broncos head coach Vance Joseph.
BRONCOS RUNNING THE TABLE MOTHERFUCKERS LETS FUCKING GO— Aaron (@a_aron77) November 26, 2018
if the Broncos run the table and make the playoffs ill get “Brock Oswiler” tattood on my arm @OldTakesExposed— Jack Ramsey (@jackramseyy) November 26, 2018
Spot on Tracy, but #Broncos we’re fortunate that #Steelers had several turnovers & left points on the board all game, #Steelers let one get away today. #Broncos now have shot to make the playoffs, but must run the table, not sure if 9-7 will make #NFL playoffs, especially in #AFC— Todd Corder (@CorderTodd) November 26, 2018
@MRiceKOA Mike, if you remember I said Cinci will be the game. 47% of the time since 1966 Broncos lose in the eastern time zone. After watching today, they win next Sunday’s game, the run the table and finish 10-6 and make playoffs!!! GO SKILLETT!— Kasey Goodrich (@KaseyGoodrich74) November 26, 2018
Fuck man why couldnt the Broncos beat the Texans.— AR | Drago (@The_Dragonite) November 26, 2018
Thats the one coin flip game we really had in the bag. We'd be 6-5 and have an even better chance at the playoffs >:(
If Broncos beat the Bengals, they are running the table in my mind. Right up until the last game of the season against the Chargers. Could VJ actually survive? This is turning out to be really interesting.— umunna emenyonu (@emenyonu99) November 26, 2018
Talk of running the table is great, but let’s just focus on the Bengals!— Iowa Broncos Fan! (@sfkelway) November 26, 2018
Crazy to think my broncos are only 1 game out of playoffs. Never thought they had a chance a few weeks ago. Just imagine if McManus hit that fg vs houston.— Wes (@WesGolfer23) November 26, 2018
Yeah, but who would have thought we’d be having any type of Broncos run the table conversation 3 weeks ago.— John Stevens (@JmyChoo) November 26, 2018
So the broncos are clearly gonna run the table. Right?— D (@DereckH_) November 26, 2018
I'm a realistic guy. Broncos probably wont make the playoffs even if they run the table. But man. It's just nice to see them play good solid football and win.— Dimitri Bolanos (@DimitriB_) November 26, 2018
1 game out of the wildcard! Let’s go Broncos! Run the table! #BroncosCountry— Christmane (@achristman34) November 26, 2018
Wow, #Broncos have a chance to run the table. Great game Broncos!!!— Sports Guys (@5280sportsguys) November 26, 2018
YEAH GET FUCKED, FATBOY BEN!!!!— Ditto as Eric Fuchs (@BlueHighwind) November 26, 2018
BRONCOS RUNNING THE TABLE NOW!!!
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There is no reason the Broncos can’t run the table, just saying— qbpick (@qbpick) November 25, 2018
Oh god what if the Broncos run the table and they keep Vance Joseph...... oh god— Depressed Sports Fan (@SoSpawtsPodcast) November 26, 2018