Outmanned, outcoached or outplayed, either way you look at it the result is the same.
The Denver Broncos second playoff appearance in four years was a complete embarrassment.
An embarrassment best exemplified by Marvin Harris' first quarter uncontested 46-yard touchdown catch, increasing the Indianapolis lead to 14-3.
After hauling in a Peyton Manning pass Harris fell to the turf at the Broncos 30-yard line. As Bronco defenders Lenny Walls, Kenoy Kennedy, Kelly Herndon and Al Wilson held an on-field debate as to who had blown the pass coverage, the Colts receiver, realizing that no one had bothered to touch him got up and raced effortlessly into the end zone.
Game, set, match to the Indianapolis Colts, and an abrupt end to the 2003 Denver Broncos season.
"I'm embarrassed," tight end Shannon Sharpe confessed. "Offensively, defensively, special teams, I mean I am just totally, totally embarrassed at what we put out there for the whole world to see. That was pathetic."
Pathetic is putting it mildly.
It was the second worst post season performance in franchise history following Super Bowl XXIV's 55-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
"They jumped out on us quick, and we didn't respond," said Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer. "It was not a very good performance for us."
Correct again, but again understated.
Four Bronco penalties on the right guard Dan Neil, three holding and one chop-block, derailed the offense from any formidable attack. The forty-five yards of infractions were five more than the entire Indianapolis team had the entire game.
But Neil can hardly shoulder the blame.
The blame belonged to anyone in a Denver uniform.
You can blame a defense that looked neither intimidating nor talented, giving up 377-yards and five touchdowns to a team it had completely dominated fourteen days earlier.
You can blame an offense that managed only one Jason Elam field goal and one – who cares at this point- touchdown pass to Rod Smith with just over seven minutes remaining.
While you're at it you can even throw some of the blame toward a coaching staff that, despite two weeks preparation, failed to formulate a game plan that could be considered even close to being worthy of NFL post-season action.
Truth be told there's blame enough for everyone in an embarrassment of this magnitude.
The question is whether or not they're willing to accept it.
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