DENVER • Outlined against a blue autumn sky, the forlorn Horsemen were mowed again.
Fall has fallen, and so have the Broncos. It has been Lost September, and October, November and December will be, too, because the Broncos will not be in the playoffs for a fourth straight season after being champions of Super Bowl 50. There is no back to the future.
The Broncos have not won since Herbert Hoover was president.
It just seems.
Actually, the Broncos last won 302 days ago in Cincinnati. Their latest victory at home was Nov. 25, 2018, against the Steelers.
The Broncos lost 26-24 Sunday afternoon on a walk-off field goal by the Jaguars. Sound familiar?
Two Sundays previous the Broncos lost 16-14 on a walk-off field goal by the Bears.
The Titans come to Denver in two Sundays. Is 36-34 possible?
For only the fourth time in the 60 seasons of the franchise’s existence, the Broncos have begun 0-4. In the other three — 55, 25 and 20 seasons ago — the Broncos ended 2-11-1, 7-9 and 6-10. This team could be the first to start 0-5 in Los Angeles on Sunday against the Chargers.
In consecutive weeks the Broncos were barely beaten at Lambeau Field and in the newly named Lambo Field at Leonard Fournette and Gardner Minshew Stadium.
In the fourth defeat to Jacksonville in Denver — including the worst in, uh, the 1997 playoff game — the Broncos possessed a 17-3 lead in the second quarter and a 24-23 advantage with 92 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold on.
Who to blame? Coach Vic-toryless Fangio? The offense? The defense? The officials? Von Miller? John Elway? Joe Flacco? Joe Ellis? The ownerless Broncos? Blame them all.
But the Broncos’ team is not a winner. That’s not my opinion. Fangio said afterward the Broncos are “winners as individuals,’’ but “not winners as a team’’ thus far.
He also said frankly: “We got whipped.’’ He was referring to the defense getting whipped by the Jaguars’ rushing attack in the second half. The Jags finished with — can you believe it? — 269 yards by running backs Fournette (225), Ryquell Armstead (42) and Minshew (2), with an average of 7.1 per. And Fournette produced an 81-yard burst through the Broncos’ defense, which looked like it, not Fournette, was suffering from altitude sickness.
Fangio said he couldn’t remember being with a team that was so decimated by the run.
The Broncos rushed for 68 yards.
People leaving the stadium want Elway fired, Miller traded, Flacco replaced, all the Broncos (who were run out of the stadium) run out of town.
Who would fire Elway — Brittany Bowlen? The trustees? Nobody. John Elway is the Teflon Man in Colorado despite the Broncos’ 20-34 record from 2016-2019.
Why trade the team’s best player, who finally had two sacks Sunday, although Von was (correctly) called for roughing Minshew on the last drive, just as the second-best player, Bradley Chubb, was (incorrectly) penalized for roughing the passer on the Bears’ last drive. Miller and Chubb, who left the game twice because of leg problems, recorded their first sacks.
But the defense still is without a turnover in four games. The Broncos are minus-5 overall.
Flacco will not be demoted any time soon. Who’s his backup? Those “fanatics’’ don’t even know his name. Chad Allen? And Brett Rypien, on the practice squad, is not taking over, and Drew Lock won’t be back at practice for several weeks. He likely will start at some point. Flacco did throw for three touchdowns Sunday, but he also flung an interception (his third) that was rather expensive.
Fire Fangio? Bill Belichick, Vince Lombardi or Mike Shanahan couldn’t win with this bunch. The Broncos are injured, insulted, not deep and not so swell.
Exactly who will Elway acquire before the trading deadline — Jalen Ramsey, merely a cheerleader on the sideline Sunday?
At least, the Broncos have proven twice they can come from behind. But they’ve also revealed in two games they can lose from ahead.
Perhaps they can win a second time in a soccer stadium. Maybe they can win a game at home in a couple of weeks.
However, there are at least five or six games on the schedule they can’t win.
When Josh Lambo, as Eddy Pineiro did two weeks earlier, kicked the winning field goal, the Broncos were undone.
The season is over before September is over.