Denver (3-9) hadn't missed the playoffs five straight years since waiting from the franchise's 1960 berth until its Super Bowl run in 1977 to even make the playoffs.
Since a 6-0 start to begin the 2009 season, Denver has gone 5-17. That's the worst 22-game stretch for the Broncos since the franchise went 3-17-2 during the 1970-71 seasons.
The Kansas City loss embodied Denver's season. The team holds the Chiefs to a touchdown and stifles the passing attack, but Kansas City's run game helps control the clock with 39 carries for 185 yards and a 15-minute edge in time of possession.
"It's been that kind of season for us," wideout Jabar Gaffney said. "We haven't been very consistent and it shows. That's why our record is the way it is."
There really are only two overriding questions moving forward: Will Josh McDaniels survive - and that subject already has been bandied about publicly by team owner Pat Bowlen and a club statement - and will Tim Tebow get a chance to play meaningful series and not just occasional snaps during his rookie season.
Give McDaniels this: after a 49-29 home win three weeks earlier against Kansas City and his team making its last stand for the postseason Sunday, no matter how slim the chance, his team played hard and competitively. That will aid his chances should that trend now continue.
The timing for playing Tebow seems right on the surface with no postseason hope, a trip to play the dreadful Cardinals pass defense and Orton arguably coming off his worst game with Denver.
But fact is, McDaniels may not want to expose Tebow to a full workload and Orton is having the best year of his career, Sunday notwithstanding.
"We haven't even thought about that," McDaniels said in response to the Tebow playing time inquiry. "I think all of those conversations will be had going forward but nobody's put any effort towards that yet."
TRENDING: The Broncos are finally starting to see the player it envisioned when drafting Moreno with their No. 1 pick in 2009. Kansas City's defensive approach to take away the outside receivers contributed to Moreno's career performance. But there's no doubt the player also looks spryer. It's his second 100-yard rushing day in four games - the first two of his career - and an Arrowhead Stadium record for a Denver rusher. And while he had just one catch Sunday, Moreno put up a combined 13 receptions for 124 yards the previous two weeks.
BY THE NUMBERS: 242.6 - Passing yards allowed per game by the Arizona Cardinals, ranked 25th in the league. Denver ranks fourth offensively at 271.4, despite Sunday's poor performance through the air.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
-- QB Kyle Orton's nine completions was his lowest single-game total in his two years with Denver and worst outing since Week 8 of the 2008 season with Chicago (8). The 117 yards passing were the fewest since that same home game - going 8 of 14 for 108 yards in a home game against Detroit.
-- Ss Kyle McCarthy and David Bruton received their most extensive playing time defensively with Denver shorthanded in the secondary. The Broncos at times employed a heavier look in their base defense, playing three safeties. Nate Jones and Renaldo Hill also were part of the rotation with Brian Dawkins and Darcel McBath out.
-- LB Joe Mays (knee) left the game and didn't return. Mays actually started again Sunday inside, as Mario Haggan took Robert Ayers' spot at LOLB. Denver saved Ayers for specific packages but Mays' injury and an elbow issue incurred by ILB D.J. Williams forced Denver to scramble. Wesley Woodyard played some at ILB as part of the mix-and-match approach.
-- CB Champ Bailey shadowed Dwayne Bowe all over the field and held the NFL's hottest receiver without a single catch. Bailey didn't receive much over the top safety help, demonstrating he's still one of the top cover corners in the game. His abilities allowed Denver to devote more defenders to stopping the run, which didn't work out as well.
-- WR Brandon Lloyd had a homecoming to forget. The Kansas City native was draped mainly by Chiefs CB Chris Carr and couldn't make the athletic, leaping plays that have marked his season due to Carr's tight coverage. Lloyd was thrown to 11 times but made only two catches for 31 yards. Lloyd had averaged 5.3 receptions and 102 yards per game entering Sunday.
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