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Broncos Fans Shocked by Victory Over Browns, Five-Game Win Streak

Boosters seem afraid to break the spell by boasting.
Russell Wilson met the press with confidence after the Broncos' win over the Cleveland Browns on November 26.
Russell Wilson met the press with confidence after the Broncos' win over the Cleveland Browns on November 26. Denver Broncos via YouTube
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Fans of your Denver Broncos have grown accustomed to the squad sucking — and to talking shit about the outfit on social media after humiliating losses, underperformances and general disappointments. And since the team hasn't notched a winning season since the waning days of the Obama administration, that makes perfect sense.

No wonder the confusion voiced online following the Broncos' 29-12 battering of the Cleveland Browns on November 26 has been so amusing. The victory extended Denver's win streak to a stunningly robust five games and guaranteed that the crew would enter December with a record above .500 (6-5, specifically) for the first time in what feels like ages. But while Broncos loyalists are psyched, their reluctance to more fully enjoy the moment suggests a fear that boasting might break the spell.

The triumph shouldn't have been shocking. The Broncos were playing at home and had just come off Ws against the Green Bay Packers, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Buffalo Bills and the Minnesota Vikings. And even though the Browns stood at 7-3 coming into the contest, their rich-n-skeezy starting quarterback, Dehaun Watson, was injured. Moreover, Watson's replacement, rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, shorthanded as DTR, had looked only borderline competent during Cleveland's 13-10 besting of the offensively offensive Pittsburgh Steelers last week.

Then again, the Browns' defense, led by Myles Garrett, arguably the most imposing pass-rusher in the NFL right now, has been downright frightening of late and seemed likely to repeatedly plant Denver QB Russell Wilson in the Mile High turf like a tulip bulb.

Somehow that didn't happen. Wilson was only sacked once yesterday, likely because Garrett hurt his shoulder during combat — an injury that left him diminished rather than deadly.

Not that the result was an awesome air attack from Russ. Once again, he failed to pass for 200 yards, falling 66 yards short of that mark en route to just thirteen total completions. But he did hurl a touchdown pass to tight end Adam Trautman, whose ass cheek barely managed to stay in bounds, and ran for an additional 34. And even his de rigueur fumble during the first half didn't result in disaster: The Browns reacted to this gift by going three-and-out and punting.

Cleveland's play-calling gave Denver a big assist throughout. Jerome Ford averaged over seven yards a carry and seemed capable of much more, yet head coach Kevin Stefanski's brain trust kept calling on DTR and P.J. Walker, who was called into duty after Thompson-Robinson suffered a concussion, to chuck the ball downfield instead of sticking with a ground attack — a strategy that frequently led to diminishing results. And then there was the failed gadget play at the start of the fourth quarter in which receiver Elijah Moore dropped a pitch from running back Pierre Strong Jr. and saw it wind up in the hands of Denver's D.J. Jones. In all, Cleveland blessed the Broncos with three turnovers — the type of thing that's been happening a lot lately.

Thanks to a late safety, the matchup ended with something unexpected for Denver — several minutes of garbage time, during which the citizens of Broncos Country didn't know what to do with themselves.

Nonetheless, Russ and company are hardly a lock for the playoffs. Sporting News puts their odds at just 23 percent, and topping the resurgent Houston Texans and Detroit Lions on the road, as they'll attempt over the next few weeks, will be tough. But the rest of Denver's schedule also includes two games against the reeling Los Angeles Chargers and one versus the catastrophe that is the New England Patriots, as well as a Las Vegas Raiders revenge opportunity. Suddenly, the prospect of double-digit wins has entered the realm of the possible.

How are Broncos boosters dealing with this new reality? Count down these twenty memorable takes on the Service Formerly Known as Twitter:

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