Broncos 4 most brutal missed opportunities in 2023

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

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Denver Broncos / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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3. Week 13 vs. Houston Texans

The Broncos' loss against the Houston Texans is one of the most brutal losses of the year. The Broncos had ripped off five straight wins leading up to this game, and they went into Houston with a ton of momentum.

There were also a lot of people wondering if/when the clock was going to strike midnight on the Cinderella story that was unfolding before all of our eyes.

The Broncos did not play very well at all against the Houston Texans. They were a completely unacceptable 0-for-11 on third downs in this game, and yet somehow, they found themselves with a goal-to-go situation from the 8-yard line of Houston late in the fourth quarter. The Broncos had marched down the field for a potential game-winning drive, and with a 1st-and-goal from the 8, it really felt like they were going to finish the job.

You've got four chances to put the ball in the end zone from eight yards out. Easier said than done, but a great situation, nevertheless. On third-and-goal, Russell Wilson escaped pressure and threw the ball up to young tight end Lucas Krull, who was undercut by veteran safety Jimmie Ward. Ward picked off Wilson's pass, ending the Broncos' comeback bid and their winning streak in one fell swoop.

And this win loomed large over the enire playoff run the Broncos were supposed to be on. Their margin for error was slim, and beating Houston would have given them another very important win over an AFC playoff contender and would have put the Broncos at 7-5 on the season. If the outcome of the Houston game was the only thing changed about the Broncos' current predicament, they'd still be firmly in the playoff mix for this season.