Paul Klee's quick report from Minneapolis and the Vikings' 27-23 win over the Broncos:
1. Broncos Country deserves better. Truth is, so do these Broncos. After building a 20-0 lead at halftime, the Broncos collapsed. The US Bank Stadium-record crowd of 66,883 got ‘em. Kirk Cousins, in the second half, got ‘em. Mostly, the Vikings’ superior roster got ‘em. Fourth-quarter losses to the Bears, Jaguars and Colts hurt. Sunday’s defeat was a Myles Garrett helmet to the head. Brandon Allen's pass to Noah Fant with 2 seconds left fell incomplete, and the Broncos lost another brutal heartbreaker.
2. Confirmed: Rich Scangarello did not get kidnapped at halftime. I saw him on an elevator after the game. The offensive coordinator’s “scripts” to open games have been money. But the Broncos offense slows to a crawl in in second halves. It’s a shame, too, because the Broncos have shown their young talent on offense is worth keeping around. Courtland Sutton is 24, Phillip Lindsay 25, Royce Freeman 23, Noah Fant 21, Dalton Risner 24. And in the short time we’ve seen him, Tim Patrick, 25, looks like a player. The Broncos should let them grow together.
3. The Vikings are a legitimate Super Bowl threat. While the home crowd way up here impacts the game, the terrific roster assembled by Minnesota’s front office is why the Vikings are 8-3 and currently a Wild Card team in the NFC. The Broncos didn’t have the depth to keep up with Minnesota’s horses over four quarters. The Broncos need two more solid drafts to get there.
4. Late last week in the Broncos locker room at UCHealth Training Center, Chris Harris Jr. was glued to the tube as highlights from the Tim Tebow game in Minnesota. “I remember that one!” Harris said. “Did we win that one?” Yes, I told him. Who could forget? Too bad Brandon Allen couldn’t replicate the Tebow magic. While Allen’s long ball to Courtland Sutton was a thing of beauty, the mulligan he’s going to want is the interception just before halftime. After a fumbled kickoff, the Vikings picked off Allen at the goal line when Denver could’ve jumped up, 27-0. You just knew the pick would haunt them.
5. Remember this when sports gambling finally goes legal in Colorado: the Broncos were 10.5-point underdogs at kickoff. Ninety minutes later in real time, they were up 20-0. (Save yourselves a few bucks and stick with college basketball, or even the NHL.) Either way, it’s a rare day when the Denver Broncos are double-digit underdogs. By my count it was only the 11th game in 30 years where the Broncos were double-digit ‘dogs — and Denver has lost all 11 games.