Vic Fangio - Broncos Steelers Football

Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio, left, talks with side judge Gary Cavaletto (60) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

A verbal contract is not worth the paper it’s written on; anyone who sees a psychiatrist should have his head examined, and moral victories in the NFL are pointless.

The Broncos almost came back to tie the Steelers Sunday.

Whoop-de-do.

The Broncos have dropped to second behind the Chargers, who did rally Sunday for 26 points in the fourth quarter to bolt and jolt the Browns.

Orange is vanilla.

Paul Klee: If the Broncos players are trying to save Vic Fangio's job, I'd hate to see the alternative

Teddy Bridgewater seemed to recover from his concussion with 2:41 remaining in the third quarter to complete 16 of 21 passes, including two touchdowns, over a 16 minute and 51-second span.

The Broncos, who had been down 24-6, were within eight points with 50 seconds to play and could force an overtime. But Teddy, at the Steelers’ 3-yard line, couldn’t connect with Diontae Spencer on third down. On fourth down with 11 seconds remaining, Bridgewater threw in the direction of Courtland Sutton in the left corner of the end zone.

Bridgewater, who suffered a concussion the previous Sunday, suffered his first interception.

At least the Steelers didn’t try to run up their rushing total on the final play.

The difference between winning and losing can be giving up a home run in ninth, running out of gas in Africa and spiking the football before scoring the touchdown, getting illegal leverage on an opponent’s field goal and failing in the final seconds.

After years of losing, the Broncos don’t know about winning yet, unless the other team is from Jersey or Jacksonville.

Not all is lost. The Broncos must beat the Raiders, who are as ordinary after bowing before the Bears.

As the team and all of the rest of us know, the Broncos need, before reaching the thick of the season, to get healthier, smarter, sharper, and better considerably on offense and generally stronger on defense.

Otherwise, they are who they are – an 8-8-1 kind of cluster I predicted before the season.

Broncos cornerback Kyle Fuller responds to rough day vs Steelers: 'Very disappointing'

In their own AFC division, the Steelers are weak these days. They won’t challenge the Ravens or the Browns. The Bengals, depending on Joe Burrow’s injury Sunday, could force the Steelers to finish fourth. Ben Roethlisberger is on his last legs in the league, but Pittsburgh had to triumph at home Sunday. It was a setup and a letdown game.

Thank goodness the late-arriving Broncos were able to secure a locker room after they couldn’t reserve hotel conference rooms for pre-game meetings.

They were awful in the first half, with two field goals and two three-play possessions, with another for five. The 17-6 deficit was reflective of a team playing three hours too soon. The Broncos finally awakened up in the third quarter, but continued to look sloppy. When they did pull within five points, the two-point conversion was not creative. When they were within range of tying late, the play-calling was not innovative or inspired.

If Vic Fangio is fired at the end of the season, a principal cause will be because the coach placed his full trust in Pat Shurmur, who ostensibly is in command of the offense.

The Broncos have paraded several mediocre offensive coordinators through Denver since 1974, when I began trailing the team. Among them was Max Coley, who called, after I criticized him, to blame head coach John Ralston for his trouble. George Henshaw was over his head, and Rod Dowhower was out of his league. Mike McCoy was dumped in his second stint with the Broncos, and Colorado’s own Bill Musgrave was fired after a short stay.

Mike Shanahan, Gary Kubiak and, yes, Adam Gase were the class of all. Shurmur is not.

Shurmur experienced some good times in three previous offensive coordinator’s jobs, but not many, or any, as a head coach twice – especially in his most recent two seasons with the Giants.

While franchises have been hiring bright and resourceful young head coaches and offensive coordinators, the Broncos chose Shurmur, who obviously didn’t prove productive last year with an abysmal offense and didn’t develop Drew Lock. He hasn’t been a Shanahan – Mike or Kyle – while averaging 20 points a game as usual this season.

Through five games, the Broncos are 17th on offense.

Broncos stalwarts can’t stand Pat. And the Broncos shouldn’t stand pat.

Moral victories mean nothing.

Broncos lose to Steelers, 27-19, after several missed opportunities
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