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Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater does some reflecting while waiting for the game to resume during a timeout during the fourth quarter of a game against the Eagles. The Eagles defeated the Broncos 30-13 at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

DENVER — As Teddy Bridgewater's final pass sailed out of bounds, overthrowing an open Tim Patrick in the back of the end zone, the few fans remaining at Empower Field let the Broncos quarterback hear it. 

Boos rained down as Bridgewater somberly walked toward the sideline. He and the Broncos had just suffered arguably their worst loss of the season, falling 30-13 to the 4-6 Eagles, only one week after shocking the 7-2, Super Bowl-contending Cowboys in Dallas.

Now, heading into the bye week, the Broncos sit squarely at 5-5 and in last place of the AFC West.

"Not the way you want to go into the bye week," Bridgewater said. "Tough loss today. Just got to find a way to play better at home. Figure out what it takes to get the energy going at home."

The turning point in the game came on the final play of the third quarter, with the Broncos trailing 20-13 and driving deep in Eagles territory. 

Facing a fourth and 1 at the Eagles' 23-yard-line, Broncos running back Melvin Gordon fumbled the ball and Philadelphia cornerback Darius Slay Jr. returned the ball 82 yards for a touchdown, which gave the Eagles a 27-13 lead going into the fourth quarter. On Slay's return, the Broncos had several chances to make a tackle, including Bridgewater who appeared to slow down as Slay ran by him.

"I see a guy trying to throw a block and then I'm just thinking, maybe I can force the ball back inside and one of our guys will make the tackle," Bridgewater said of the play. "It was definitely a momentum shift."

But Gordon's fumble and Bridgewater's lack of tackling wasn't the only miscue by Denver's offense Sunday. It was an awful 1 of 11 on third down and failed to score twice inside Philadelphia's 25-yard-line. 

The Broncos had five possessions inside the 25-yard-line — three inside the 10 — and scored only 13 points on those possessions. 

  • Possession 1: 1-yard touchdown run by Gordon. 

  • Possession 2: 21-yard field goal by Brandon McManus.

  • Possession 3: Eagles blocked field goal.

  • Possession 4: Two costly penalties, including one that overturned a touchdown, 28-yard field goal by McManus.

  • Possession 5: Turnover on downs.

"We just didn't play well in the red zone," coach Vic Fangio said. "Give them credit. The penalties were on us, but we couldn't make a play down there." 

The Broncos were without their offensive play caller Sunday. Quarterbacks coach Mike Shula took over for offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who positive for COVID-19 on Friday. 

"It was kind of a weird game for him calling plays in the first half we weren't playing good enough defense," Fangio said. "We were never able to get into a flow offensively from a play calling standpoint. That's not a knock on Mike, that's kind of how the game went."

But maybe the most disappointing part of the offense was Bridgewater himself. 

The seven-year veteran missed on several throws, including the one to Patrick on the final drive and a deep ball to wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, which was wide open down the sideline. Bridgewater overthrew Jeudy by at least 10 yards and said after the game the play was "just a miscommunication."

Bridgewater finished the day 22 of 36 for 226 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. 

"Teddy was like the rest of us — inconsistent," Fangio said. "But I thought, overall, he played good enough. We needed to make some more plays." 

From costly turnovers to Bridgewater's inconsistency to the defense continuing to struggle in the run game, the Broncos seemingly have a lot off issues to fix during the bye week. It was only a week ago they were on top of the world, upsetting the Cowboys in Dallas in what was maybe the organization's best win since Super Bowl 50. 

Now, the Broncos have to hit the reset button. 

"It sucks, man. We set ourselves up in prime position to hit this bye on a hot streak," safety Justin Simmons said. "By no means is the season over. We still have a lot of ball left and the bye is coming at a good time... There's no excuses. We've got to close out this season the right way." 

The Broncos still have plenty of opportunities ahead of them, with five of their seven final games coming against divisional opponents. And they've shown, at times, they can play good football. 

But for the 70,564 in attendance, and the thousands of Broncos fans watching from home, Sunday was a massive let down.

"We've got to learn from this and come back and be ready to play," Fangio said. "Take each day one day at a time and play each game one game at a time moving forward. But ultimately, we've got to learn from it, fix what's fixable from a learning standpoint and move forward.

"We've got to get past this. We've got seven big games left." 

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