Schon: Broncos Fold it up in the Windy City

I may not be a rocket scientist, but tell me again - Who's idea was it to kick to Devin Hester?

After sitting through a horrendous 37-34 loss to the Chicago Bears, it'd be real easy for me to play Monday morning quarterback and pick apart every little thing the Denver Broncos did wrong and analyze exactly why they deserved to lose.

So … I will.

Try this on for size kids - the Broncos averaged a miserable 37-yards per punt, didn't have a single touchback on eight kickoffs, had one punt blocked at the most inopportune time of the game and gave up two easy touchdown returns to a guy they knew beforehand would torch them in a heartbeat.

A total of twenty-one points were given up by poor judgment, inept coaching and sloppy special teams play.

Let me rewind here for a minute, back to the middle of the week when Broncos punter Todd Sauerbrun gave us his take on the NFL's best kick returner - Devin Hester "We're not worried at all. We respect the hell out of him, don't get us wrong. But we're not going to go out there tiptoeing around."

Maybe they should have - it would have been easier to handle than watching Sauerbrun flail around like a deer in the headlights as the only Bronco left with a chance to catch him. Not once - but twice Sauerbrun let it sail straight down the middle of the field - giving Hester more than enough room to hand him his pride on a silver platter.

Now fast forward to the more than unpleasant post game, where a rather subdued Sauerbrun had time to reflect on the decision to jump into the fire.

"The weather sucked, the field sucked, all in all not a pleasurable day all around. "But they kicked our (*!&). Plain and simple."

Ok… well I guess that sums it up - but it doesn't exactly finish the story. Sauerbrun wasn't the only problem the Broncos had today - he might have been the biggest, but there's plenty of blame to go around.

How about an offense that converted only one third down the entire game - or a defense that had played pretty respectable, suddenly giving up two touchdowns in the final 5:17 of regulation to Rex Grossman and his 66.9 quarterback rating?

How about Dre' Bly getting tagged for illegal contact on the Bears fourth down incompletion to Mushin Muhammad. Ruling on the field was that Bly had his hand on Muhammad's shoulder outside the five-yard safe zone, and instead of Broncos ball at the thirty-five yard line, Grossman continues the drive that ultimately ties the game in the closing minutes.

Bly pleaded his case afterward, but it falls on deaf ears. The Broncos should never have let it get down to one play, and you don't have to be a Pro Bowler to figure that one out.

"It's bogus,'' Bly told reporters. "He (officials) said it was illegal contact. I felt like Mushin ran into me, but them guys, there were calls they missed all game."

I'm sure that one will cost him.

How about Broncos defensive tackle Alvin McKinley getting popped for holding? Holding? On a running play? That one gave the Bears a first down in overtime and got them five-yards closer to Robbie Gould's game winning chip shot two plays later.

There's no other way around it - this was an epic Broncos meltdown - and with San Diego's 32-14 win over Baltimore, it's one more nail in the coffin of a disappointing season.

Say goodbye to the Windy City. The Broncos limp away at 5-6, one game behind the Chargers for first place in the AFC Worst (West).

"This one, I really don't understand," Brandon Marshall said. "Up by 14 with five and a half minutes to go, I don't understand."

Don't worry, you're not alone - I don't know if anybody can understand this one.

Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past ten years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.

Schon can be reached at

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