BALTIMORE — The Denver Broncos’ defense was elite on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

For the first 55 minutes of the game.

“Not to beat a dead horse, it came down to the two-minute drive, and if you want to be elite and you want to call yourself the best, you’ve got to be able to execute in those moments, and I’m obviously frustrated there,” Justin Simmons said after Denver’s 10-9 loss to the Ravens.

And that’s been the story of the Broncos’ defense throughout much of Denver’s disappointing 3-9 season.

Before the Ravens final drive of the game, Ejiro Evero’s unit had allowed three points through the first 55 minutes of the game. Three total points.

But with Denver’s offense continuing to struggle to put up points, the Ravens had a shot to win the game, down 9-3 with 5:02 left in the game. As has happened many times before, the Broncos’ defense just couldn’t hold on.

Spanning 91 yards on 16 plays, the Ravens, led by backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, scored the go-ahead touchdown with 28 seconds left in the game to give Baltimore the 10-9 win.

“I keep harping on that two-minute drive. You talk about the plays that win or lose you the game, and for us, it was that two-minute drive,” Simmons said, continuing to harp on the final drive. “We knew what type of game this was going to be — low scoring, defensive, just a dog fight. They’ve got a really good defense as well — scrappy. They’re good at stopping the run. So, for us, it’s just finding way to finish those games — offense, defense. Obviously, we didn’t give our offense a chance much there at the end and they still almost made it happen. Obviously, we believe in ‘B-Mac’ kicking the long field goals, but we wouldn’t need it to happen if we’d gotten a stop to win the game.”

Denver’s defense isn’t a stranger to having their back up against the wall late in the game. In fact, all three of Denver’s wins on the season came down to the Broncos’ defense coming up with a stop, with the most recent being K’Waun Williams’ game-clinching interception against the Jaguars in London.

However, the Broncos’ defense has been far from perfect in these scenarios, as highlighted by Sunday’s loss. While Denver’s defense helped close out all three wins for the Broncos, their defense also gave up scores in the final five minutes of four different games which gave up the lead or tie that they ended up losing.

Additionally, after Denver’s loss on Sunday, their defense ranked second in the NFL only giving up only 17 points per game. However, their fourth quarter and end-of-game defense hasn’t been as impressive.

Of the 166 total points Denver has allowed this season, 39.7 percent of them have been scored in the fourth quarter. On top of that, 30.7 percent of the total points allowed have been scored against the Broncos in the final 7:30 in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“This one stings, because, obviously it’s frustrating that you play so well for most of the game [and] give yourself a chance to win at the end of the game. But defensively, I’m going to keep harping on you can’t play three-and-a-half quarters of really good football and then give it up at the end – not necessarily give it up, because hats off to the Ravens; they did a great job,” Simmons continued. “There are definitely some self-inflicting things that we did that didn’t help that situation. We’ve just got to find ways to be better, and we can’t accept, obviously, the outcome there for us.”

Denver’s defense clearly hasn’t been the reason the team is 3-9 and sitting in the basement of the AFC West. But the captain of the defense wants more, specifically when the game is on the line.


Zac Stevens was born and raised in Denver, went to the University of Denver and now covers the Denver Broncos. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from DU in 2014, Zac worked for the Cleveland Browns as a remote scout. He then jumped straight into the journalism industry at the beginning of 2016 covering the reigning world-champion Broncos and joined DNVR soon after. Catch him on Twitter @ZacStevensDNVR and daily on the DNVR Broncos podcast as the co-host.