The Good and the Bad in the Denver Broncos Loss to the Cincinnati Bengals


Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (25) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos laid an egg on Monday night in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. In the grand scheme of things, the loss does not matter because the Buffalo Bills were never going to beat the New England Patriots and the Broncos are going to beat the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. That will give the Broncos the second-seed and a bye week.

The bigger problem is that the Broncos clearly are not ready for the playoffs and good teams will do the same things to them that the Bengals did.

What I liked:

The Broncos showed some fight: Even in a very disappointing loss, the Broncos did show some fight in coming back to actually take a lead for a short time. It doesn’t mean much, given how bad the Broncos were everywhere else, but at least they didn’t quit.

What I didn’t like:

Peyton Manning: The numbers looked better than he played. I give him credit for getting the Broncos back in the game but he made two critical mistakes, and his play in the first half was partly responsible for the big halftime deficit. He also made the killer mistake that ended any hope for the Broncos and it is fair to wonder if he can lead this team where they want to go.

The offensive line: It looked like the game versus the St. Louis Rams all over again. The offensive line could not open holes in the running game and Manning had no time to throw. Once the playoffs start, they are going to face some very good defensive fronts and that should scare every Broncos fan.

The run defense: It’s been so good all season; that it was really surprising to see the Bengals run with such ease. It’s true that the loss of linebacker Brandon Marshall was a big one but the Broncos were terrible versus the run on Monday night.

Special teams: Just when it looked like when the Broncos might get back into the game with a big special teams play of their own, they gave it right back by allowing a huge kickoff return to give the momentum right back to the Bengals. Throw in a missed field goal from Connor Barth and a big punt return in the first half, and it was an ugly night for the Broncos’ special teams. Then to top it off, the Broncos give up another huge punt return in the fourth quarter that led to the field goal that gave the Bengals the lead for good.

Todd Davis: I’m picking on him a little and it’s not really fair, but the linebacker was terrible on Monday night. Many of the big runs for the Bengals were run right at Davis who missed a tackle in the offensive backfield that led to the 85 yard touchdown run. Perhaps more of the blame should go to the coaches, who put him into positions that he obviously wasn’t ready for.

Rahim Moore: The safety was terrible all night in pass coverage, and it cost the Broncos a number of times. He’s a free agent after the season and if he doesn’t play better from this point forward, he won’t be back in Denver.

The injury to TJ Ward: If he’s out for any period of time, the Broncos are in serious troube on defense. With all of the injuries at the linebacker position, Ward has been playing in the box. The Broncos could not stop the run with Ward, they have no chance without him.

The season is not over and in the end, the loss probably has no impact on the Broncos playoff seeding but there are plenty of reasons to be concerned going into the playoffs. The Broncos just don’t look they are ready for a Super Bowl run.