The Denver Broncos went into Lucas Oil Stadium and put it to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 8. Denver led the entire game until the final 22 seconds, following Adam Vinatieri's game-clinching field goal.
Denver's ability to get out to a lead can be credited to Joe Flacco and company doing just enough to get a couple of first-half field goals, but it was the work of Vic Fangio's defense that allowed the team to sustain it for as long as it did.
The Broncos offense was able to sustain a few drives and they did hit pay-dirt once. But it was mostly another uneven, impotent performance with Joe Flacco under center.
After the collapse, Flacco took to the podium for his post-game presser and unloaded with a passive-aggressive shot on offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello.
"It's a 3rd-&-5 at the end of the game," Flacco said. "Who cares if they have a timeout there at the end or not? Getting in field goal range isn't that tough. You're just putting your defense in these bad situations, and I just feel like, 'What do we have to lose? Why can't we be aggressive in some of these situations?' That's kind of how I feel about a lot of the game today."
Flacco is speaking of the Broncos' 3rd-&-5 situation, nursing a 13-12 lead with the ball on the Colts' 43-yard line. With exactly two minutes left, instead of really going for it and calling a play that would have given the Broncos a true chance to move the chains, Scangarello called a dive hand-off to Phillip Lindsay up the gut, which was stopped for a short gain, bringing up fourth down.
It was a waiving of the white flag, no doubt. And Flacco has every right to question the play-call and even the ensuing decision to punt the ball instead of going for it on fourth down. But we saw last week how quickly criticizing the offensive coordinator in Denver will get you shipped out the door.
"I mean, come on," Flacco said. "I just look at it like we're now a 2-6 football team and we're, like, afraid to go for it in a two-minute drill. You know? Like, who cares if you give the ball back to the guys with 1:40 left? They obviously got the field goal anyway. Once again, we're a 2-6 football team and it just feels like we're kind of afraid to lose the game."
If the 2-6 start wasn't bad enough, things are really beginning to get ugly in Denver when the starting quarterback openly criticizes the decision making, not only of the OC, but also of the head coach.
Flacco didn't say 'Vic Fangio' or even 'Rich Scangarello' but the Broncos' team brass will have no problem deducing who and what their starting quarterback was really talking about. Was that the last straw in starting the clock on Drew Lock?
Was this meltdown loss the straw that breaks the camel's back and gets GM John Elway to face the reality that 2019 is a lost season and the Flacco trade was a bust? Only time will tell.
Next up for Denver is a Week 9 homestand vs. the Cleveland Browns and then the bye in Week 10. We'll see if Lock begins practicing finally next week, and whether this front office has the intestinal fortitude to set the wheels of change in motion for their rookie QB rotting on the injured-reserve vine.