Of all the Broncos players to get ejected, mild-mannered receiver Brandon Stokley had to be pretty low on the list.
But after a first-quarter incompletion, Stokley was upset a pass interference penalty wasn’t called.
Stokley ran about 20 yards downfield towards the back judge, Todd Prukop. Stokley was gesturing wildly, and when his hand hit Prukop’s hand, it resulted in a 15-yard penalty and an ejection.
“We have to handle that better than we did in that situation,” coach Josh McDaniels said.
The Broncos not only lost Stokley, but rookie receiver Kenny McKinley suffered a knee injury on a kickoff return in the first quarter. Eddie Royal was inactive, leaving Denver with three healthy receivers for the final three quarters.
Brandon Lloyd, who was inactive the first 14 games, caught four passes for 22 yards. Jabar Gaffney caught his first two touchdowns of the season.
“They did a nice job, I thought, of hanging in there and communicating when we had some formation stuff,” McDaniels said.
The Broncos had to make some adjustments at positions other than receiver. Guard Russ Hochstein went down with a knee injury in the third quarter and was replaced by Ben Hamilton, who was benched earlier this season.
Denver had Alphonso Smith return punts and kickoffs because Royal was inactive, McKinley was hurt and Correll Buckhalter went out briefly with an ankle injury.
“We needed a lot of guys to step up and play different spots,” McDaniels said.
The Broncos don’t control their own playoff destiny anymore, but what help Denver needs next week wasn’t foremost on everyone’s mind.
“Right now I do not know anything and I do not want to know anything,” quarterback Kyle Orton said. “Right now as a team we just have to worry about winning next weekend against Kansas City.”
frank schwab, the gazette