It's not that Coloradans have decided en masse that they no longer despise Chargers QB Philip Rivers: They still love to make him cry, whine and complain, and on Sunday, October 6, he did so, as usual. Rather, most loyalists believe that after an 0-4 start that's included embarrassing losses against the Raiders and Packers and absolute soul-crushers to the Bears and Jaguars, all hopes that the Broncos could reach the playoffs, let alone make an impact there, have already vamoosed — so it would be better to lose every contest the rest of the way and enhance their draft status than earn a few meaningless victories en route to the third (or fourth, depending on who's counting) consecutive mediocre campaign since taking Super Bowl 50 in 2016.
It clearly pained Broncos Country to have the squad associated with the quest to "Tank for Tua" — a reference to purposeful defeats intended to earn a shot to acquire Alabama hurler Tua Tagovailoa, expected to be the first selection in next year's NFL draft. Now, however, plenty of locals fear that possibility is dead and they'll be stuck with Drew Lock, the latest QB of the future to inspire no confidence whatsoever.
The same can be said of the latest W, which was earned only after Denver narrowly avoided repeating the agonizing narratives that played out against Chicago and Jacksonville. Once again, the Broncos started hot, putting 17 points on the board during the first half, only to allow the Chargers to chip away at the lead by going into suspended offensive animation in the second half. Los Angeles got its first and only touchdown by way of a 65-yard punt return by Travis Benjamin that contained more whiffs than a Justin Verlander no-hitter, then added a field goal to make it a one-possession contest in the fourth. Only after Brandon McManus split the uprights in the waning moments (in the wake of missing a 54-yarder) were the Broncos assured of finally getting off the schneid.
Afterward, though, feelings of relief among the fan base (and head coach Vic Fangio, who looked as if he was able to breathe for the first time in weeks) mingled with continued frustration over team executive John Elway's leadership amid reports that the franchise might stage a fire sale if its fortunes continue to fall. (CBS maintained that even Von Miller isn't safe.) As a result, the post-game social-media messages might be the least celebratory ever following a game in which the Broncos wound up on top.
See what we mean be counting down our picks for the twenty most memorable tweets.