ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — One play remains incapable of defining a season. However, it can capture the frustration of failing to meet expectations, of collapsing when urgency is necessary.
The Broncos face planted against the Eagles on Sunday, falling for the ninth in their past 13 home games.
A third quarter sequence remains a source of vitriol for fans after quarterback Teddy Bridgewater made no effort to tackle Philadelphia cornerback Darius Slay on an 82-yard scoop and score. Coach Vic Fangio admitted Sunday he did not see the play.
Monday, he weighed in after watching the video, and remained committed to Bridgewater as the starter.
"Well, I would like to see us all pursue it better. I would like to see Teddy at least make a play at the guy," Fangio said.
Bridgewater spoke to reporters on Monday. He admitted he failed on the play that has fans up in arms.
"We watched it today as a team, and coach pointed it out, that, hey, my effort had to be better there, and I totally agree. That’s not the type of tape that I want to put out there," Bridgewater said, adding later: "I’m right there. Opportunity to just dive, sacrifice, do whatever I can to help the team in that moment. And I own up to it. It’s unacceptable as a football player, as a member of this team … I’ve got to accept the fact that I didn’t give everything I had in me."
There's nothing Fangio or Bridgewater could likely say to appease fans. They want wins and seek a playoff berth for the first time since Super Bowl 50. That challenge remains daunting with five AFC West games remaining and Denver losing by double digits at home seven times over the past two seasons.
But the math says they still have a chance. The Chiefs lead the AFC West with a 6-4 record, one game ahead of the Broncos. Denver controls its own fate, but cannot be viewed as a contender until it becomes more consistent.
One week after the biggest victory in five years — a crushing of the Cowboys — the Broncos allowed the Eagles to rush for 214 yards on the ground. Denver also netted just plus six points in five trips inside the 25-yard line, the offense unraveling with penalties, a blocked field goal and Melvin Gordon's fumble on Slay's return.
ESPN analyst and former NFL head coach Rex Ryan insisted he would bench Bridgewater for his lack of effort.
"I respect Rex and his opinion but I don't agree with him at this point," Fangio said. "Teddy is our quarterback going forward."
Bridgewater said he deserved to be called out in today's team meeting.
This is the second time a Broncos captain has given up on or showed lacking effort on an interception. Courtland Sutton did it earlier in the season, though the Broncos were trailing more significantly. Bridgewater's play, in theory, fizzled a comeback.
"You can't point the finger at one person. Football is the ultimate game, and Slay made a play," defensive end Shelby Harris said. "I am with my quarterback and I am going to ride with him."
Lloyd Cushenberry echoed a similar sentiment.
"First of all, I haven't paid attention to what people are saying (about Bridgewater)," center Lloyd Cushenberry said. " I saw Slay running. I could have had more effort to the ball. We just all could have done better."
Also, Fangio said he has no plans to dismiss special teams coach Tom McMahon, whose units have had one critical mistake in seven of the 10 games.