A second to lose.
In a bizarre Bears beat-the-clock conclusion, the bewildered Broncos would bear the burden of another defeat – their sixth straight since last December. Coaches, quarterbacks and seasons may change, but results and misfortunes don’t.
Gamblers who backed the Broncos (2.5-3-point underdogs) Sunday will be jovial. Grumblers who love the Broncos will be cheerless and blame the officials who erroneously put one second back on a scoreboard clock that showed 0:00 and provocatively called Bradley Chubb for a roughing-the-Trubisky penalty. Grouches will complain legitimately about tackle Garett Bolles (three holding penalties, another declined by the Bears) and guard Ron Leary (two holding violations), the offensive fiasco to score more than two touchdowns in eight quarters and the defensive failure to record one sack or a turnover in two games.
Truth is, the Broncos just aren’t good enough to win. It’s the Kyle Orton Syndrome – whatever bad that can happen will happen.
For instance, the Broncos trailed 13-6, and were still in the contest, with 12:42 remaining in the final period when they took possession at their 24. On the sideline, coach Vic Fangio, his staff and quarterback Joe Flacco were confident enough to discuss that when, not if, the Broncos scored a touchdown, they would go for a two-point conversion to earn the victory in regulation.
The offense flowed smoothly to first-and-goal at the Bears’ 4-yard line with 5:58 to go. The Bears had been worn down and out by the altitude and the heat and were taking their last gasps. On third down the Broncos stood at the 2, and Flacco threw right toward Emmanuel Sanders, but cornerback Kyle Fuller, one of the best pick players in the NFL, intercepted at the 3. Another red zone opportunity, as has been the case since Super Bowl 50, was squandered.
However, the Broncos would be presented with a second chance, which everyone deserves. Thanks to Flacco and Sanders this time, the Broncos would score a touchdown, and would attempt to try for two.
You can’t spell Emmanuel without “Man’’, and he is. Returning from an Achilles tear well ahead of schedule, he still catches everything but a crosstown bus. He would bust the Bears for the touchdown, then do it again for the two-point conversion to edge the Broncos ahead 14-13.
There were heart-rending minutes in between. In a Shakespearian farce of mistakes by both teams, first the Broncos, lined up for the deuce, were flagged for 12 men in the huddle. Pushed back, Fangio was forced to accept a tie. However, the reliable Brandon McManus pushed his kick right, and the Broncos seemed to have experienced “death by feet’’.
But, wait. The Bears were guilty of offsides. So the ball was moved to the one-yard line (for some unknown reason), and the Broncos went back to Plan A – a two-point play, which was a smart, shrewd decision by Fangio, who is trying to pair winning attitude with high altitude.
The Broncos were ahead and needed only 31 ticks of the clock for the triumph. They got only 30.
The Bears began at their 25 with a five-yard completion, with 15 yards added because of the roughing-the-passer penalty, which looked to everybody in America who doesn’t live in Chicago or wear a stripped uniform like a normal takedown, not a tempestuous tackle.
Nevertheless, the ball was moved to five yards shy of mid-field. Mitchell Trubisky got nothing with three incompletions, and, before fourth down, lost five on a delay-of-game infraction.
So, M.T., almost on empty, escaped trouble and threw to quality receiver Allen Robinson for 25 yards. Robinson went to ground and was touched by Chris Harris Jr. Trubisky rushed up to call time. Yet, the Broncos and those who hadn’t prematurely evacuated celebrated, and the Bears bowed heads.
After an officials’ rendezvous, referee Adrian Hill announced the clock would be reset at 0:01.
The Bears, who’ve suffered the Woes of Cody Parkey, sent out neophyte Eddy Pineiro, who pierced the air with the winning field goal.
For the Broncos, there were positives, negatives and neutrals.
But, they’ve lost their winning feeling from 2012-2015, and the presence of Peyton Manning, America’s Spokesman, at the stadium couldn’t counteract the numbness.
The Broncos are cursed and star-crossed, and will be cussed.