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DENVER — The Denver Broncos fooled the world.
During the first two games of the season, the Broncos only knew how to win, squeezing out last-second victories over the Seahawks and Raiders at home.
At that point, the sky was the limit for the 2-0, undefeated team.
The only goal and focus was carrying the momentum into the next week.
Then, all the magic vanished.
But even after the team dropped five of six games, there was still belief the ship could be turned around this season.
Heck, even after Week 8’s loss to the Chiefs, sitting at 3-5, the Broncos truly believed they could, and would, right the ship.
“We still have a long season ahead of us. We have eight games. We can still make whatever we want out of this season,” captain Von Miller said following the seven-point loss to the Chiefs in Week 8.
But after Sunday’s heartbreaking loss, as head coach Vance Joseph described it, hope was not flowing like it had been through the first half of the season.
“I’m all over the place,” Case Keenum said, trying to put his mindset into words. “It’s tough. It stings. I don’t know the words to say to explain how much it sucks.”
After the “gut-wrenching” loss, as Joseph said, again emphasizing how bad it was, there was no looking ahead at the positives.
“It’s a tough loss,” Keenum said again, emphasizing the weight of the outcome.
Chris Harris Jr. didn’t back down on how brutal this loss was for himself and the team as they enter their final seven games of the season, saying it’s “definitely” particularly tough as the team enters their bye week.
“It just hurts,” the vet stated with no glimpse of hope in his voice. “This one is tough too. They just keep adding up.”
In fact, instead of focusing on how to turn the season around, the Broncos players were dumbfounded by how they could be nine games through the season sitting at 3-6, two-and-a-half games out of the final wild-card spot.
Instead of the typical “we can still make whatever we want out of this season,” the words from Miller and his teammates were “we’ve just got to keep battling.”
“What are we? 3-6 now? It’s tough whenever you look at the record, but as a pro, we go out there every week, and we get to play the sport that we love,” Miller said, shifting his attention from making the playoffs one week ago to explaining how he will find the motivation to finish the season. “This is our dream and as long as we have games coming up, I know I could speak for the locker room, we’re all in.”
The Broncos enter their Week 10 Bye completely aware of the grave situation they’re in.
Not only do they sit closer to the No. 1 overall pick than making the playoffs, but they also come out of the bye facing three teams with a combined 16-7-1 record.
Entering Sunday, hope was eternal in the Mile High City, but as the sun disappeared behind the Rocky Mountains shortly after the loss, hope went with it.