3 plays that doomed Broncos and their playoff hopes on Christmas Eve

  • Bad start leads to bad finish
  • Major gaffe on kickoff return
  • DeVante Parker beats Pat Surtain II

Dec 24, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Marvin Mims made a big gaffe in the game.
Dec 24, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Marvin Mims made a big gaffe in the game. / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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A loss to the New England Patriots on Christmas Eve, the second year in a row that the Denver Broncos have suffered a terrible holiday loss, the team's playoff hopes have pretty much gone up in smoke.

It was a big blow for the Broncos who saw as the Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans all lost in Week 16.

Looking back at this game, one in which the Broncos trailed 23-7 entering the fourth quarter, we can put our finger on three plays that really impacted the final result in a negative way for the Broncos. These three plays, had their been a different result, likely would have led to a Broncos win and an 8-7 record, rather than a loss and a 7-8 record.

Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos
Dec 24, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams (33) is tackled by a Patriots defender, short of the end zone. / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Javonte Williams stopped on 4th-and-Goal

The Broncos could not have asked for this game to start any better for them than it did. On the Patriots' first snap of the game, Bailey Zappe took a hit from D.J. Jones, the ball came loose and Jones fell on it, setting the Broncos up with 1st-and-goal from the New England 6-yard line.

On consecutive runs, Javonte Williams was stopped for a short gain. On 3rd-and-goal, Russell Wilson appeared to have his pass attempt to Adam Trautman picked off in the end zone but upon replay, the call was reversed to an incomplete pass.

Sean Payton has been pretty good this season at taking points when they are available and he probably should have here. But likely motivated by a huge start to the game after the big turnover, Payton decided to go for it on fourth down.

Williams had his number called again on 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line and he was stopped short of the end zone. The Broncos ended up with nothing after that big start by the defense.

After the game, Wilson talked about how the start to the game is what hurt the Broncos the most, rather than the way they finished it.