December 28, 2008 9:35 PM
Zapped: Broncos electrocuted by Chargers
The San Diego Chargers went ahead 38-13 in the third quarter when I felt the need to flip the channel . . . to
Basically, from one criminal case to another.
In a winner-take-all game with the AFC West championship on the line, the San Diego Chargers assaulted the Broncos 52-21 on Sunday.
The game reflected Denver's storyline throughout the season: Pathetic defense coupled with a one-dimensional offense.
In the end, an 8-8 record sounded just about right for the Broncos.
Somehow the Broncos managed a three-game lead in the AFC West. And then they blew it. They tapped out in Carolina. They were choked out at home against Buffalo. Then came the pummeling from the Chargers on national television to complete the folding act.
Make that disappearing act. The Broncos will miss the postseason for a third consecutive season -- a first since the 1980-81-82 seasons.
For the first time since 1964, the Broncos allowed 30 or more points nine times in a season. They've allowed 30 or more points 16 times in the past 32 games.
Denver's defenders are pretty good at chest-thumping and celebrating tackles. If they had made more of them to prevent touchdowns, maybe the fans wouldn't be staring at the second-highest point total allowed (448) in the team's 49-year history.
A nobody named
In four words, Denver's defense is pathetic.
The Broncos running game -- not
Cutler threw four interceptions and two touchdowns in Denver's final three games, and the Broncos were outscored 112-54. San Diego's pass defense ranked 31st in the league, but Cutler struggled to solve it.
It didn't help that Cutler's receivers,
Denver could have been the seventh team this season to reach the playoffs after finishing .500 or worse in 2007. Instead they're at home, with the noisy Dallas Cowboys . . . and winless Detroit Lions.
Now they're known as that team that blew a three-game division lead and is done for the season. Still hard to believe.
Wonder how long it will take for the Broncos to repair and recover from this unprecedented collapse.