Broncos 4 most brutal missed opportunities in 2023

The "What If" of the Broncos 2023 season is torturous

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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The Denver Broncos have one game left in the 2023-24 season, but they have been eliminated from the playoffs. With one game left against the Las Vegas Raiders, there's still plenty to play for with this team. Not only can the Broncos finish with a winning record at 9-8, but they can also finish with a nice 4-2 record against AFC West opponents, including four straight wins against divisional foes.

Although there are still some things to play for in Week 18 for the Denver Broncos, this season has too many "what if" landmarks littered throughout. Even dating back to the way the team came out flat in the season opener against the Jimmy Garoppolo/Josh McDaniels-led Raiders, too many great opportunities were squandered.

And in a season where the Kansas City Chiefs left the door wide open, it's really a shame that the Broncos weren't able to win at least one or two more games. And they had chances. Let's take a torturous trip down memory lane at some of the biggest missed opportunities for the Broncos in 2023.

1. Week 2 vs. Washington Commanders

Early in the season, the biggest blown opportunity for the Denver Broncos came in Week 2 against the Washington Commanders. I know the Broncos only lost by one point against the Raiders in Week 1, but the blunder in Week 2 vs. Washington was much, much worse.

The Broncos got out to a 21-3 lead against the Commanders in their home opener, and that 21-3 lead was a stark contrast to what we'd all seen the previous week against the Raiders. I was monitoring this game while at my sister-in-law's wedding, and figured I could enjoy the rest of the night in peace when the Broncos went up 21-3. That kind of lead at home? Against Sam Howell?

Just keep that train chugging, right?

Wrong.

The Commanders were given a sliver of hope when the Broncos were on their way to scoring once again, but Russell Wilson fumbled the ball with 6:34 left in the 2nd quarter, and the Commanders were able to march down the field for a touchdown (and two-point conversion). All of a sudden, the momentum completely shifted.

Washington ripped off three straight scoring drives to tie the game at 21 apiece. After scoring three straight touchdowns on their opening three possessions, the Broncos went:

  • Fumble
  • Punt (three-and-out)
  • Punt (three-and-out)
  • Interception

They reclaimed the lead with a field goal before giving it right back to the Commanders with another touchdown drive...And then another.

Just like that, a 21-3 lead with the Broncos driving at the end of the first half had vanished. They were now trailing 35-24.

After a 15-play drive that ended with a disappointing field goal, the Broncos managed to get the ball back for one last gasp late in the 4th quarter. Russell Wilson heaved up a Hail Mary which was shockingly caught by Brandon Johnson, and the Broncos had a chance to tie this wacky game in regulation.

But they failed on the two-point conversion, ripping the collective hearts out of all of Broncos Country. Not only was this one of the worst losses of the season, it was one of the most brutal to watch in real time. It was one of those games you knew was going to bite you later in the season, and it did.