Photograph: Isaiah J Downing/USA Today Sports
When Sean Payton called Nathaniel Hackett’s 15-game stint with the Broncos “one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL,” it sounded cruel and unnecessary. Now it sounds foolish. Hackett was 1-1 at this point last season in Denver. Payton’s Broncos are 0-2 after giving up an 18-point lead to the Washington Commanders in a thriller that ended 35-33 after a failed Denver two-point conversion following a miraculous Hail Mary.
The game ended in controversy as Commanders cornerback Benjamin St-Juste was draped all over Courtland Sutton during that final two-point conversion. But none of that should take away from the fact that Denver should have been riding into Week 3 with a 1-1 record, thrilled with the direction of the Russell Wilson-Payton marriage.
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The pairing was nearly perfect for most of the first half. Wilson slaughtered the Commanders’ defense, and finally looked like the Wilson of old. He moved well, executed passes of various depths (including a beautiful bomb to Marvin Mims), and commanded a Payton playbook that kept Washington’s defense in a state of confusion. Wilson ended the first half 6-8 with 154 yards and two touchdowns.
Then, in a repeat of Week 1’s loss to the Raiders, the Broncos became dazed, confused, and just plain bad. Denver led 21-3 in the third quarter, but the Commanders then scored 32 of the next 35 points. Most of the second half was filled with miscues from Denver on both sides of the ball before their late rally almost sent the game into overtime. The defense operated with no urgency, the offense with no rhythm or mojo.
After the game, Payton addressed the team’s lackluster second half.
“There was a number of drives where we’re late with personnel, getting out of the huddle we took a while. That’s got to change. We burned timeouts in the first half, and I’m not used to doing…
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Author : The Guardian
Publish date : 2023-09-18 07:05:21
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