It was not a great day for the Denver Broncos as the NFL had a triple header of action on Saturday. In addition to getting crushed 42-17 by the Detroit Lions, the Broncos saw both the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts go to 8-6, one game ahead of them in the standings.
But during the team's loss in Detroit, something concerning happened during a critical sequence in the game.
In the third quarter and trailing 28-7, the Broncos went on a solid drive that got inside the 10-yard line of Detroit. Russell Wilson completed a pass to Jaleel McLaughlin that initially looked like a touchdown. The officials said that he was short. On the next play, a 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Javonte Williams appeared to score a touchdown but that too was ruled short of the goal line.
The Broncos did not challenge either play and on 4th-and-goal, fullback Michael Burton popped into the end zone but an offensive offsides penalty was called on Quinn Meinerz, the penalty that hurt the Kansas City Chiefs last week. Backed up after the penalty, the Broncos chose to kick a field goal.
After kicking the field goal, this scene was shown on the Denver sideline:
Payton is clearly lighting up his quarterback here and the reason why could be anyone's guess. Did Wilson not allow enough time in between snaps to allow Payton to decide if he wanted to challenge or not? Did Wilson perhaps ask him why he didn't challenge those plays?
Either way, Payton was clearly upset with his quarterback and that's putting it mildly. After the game, Payton had this to say when addressing the media:
Sorry coach, but I find that entire explanation to be completely ridiculous. Payton is suggesting that he wasn't mad at Wilson but rather, the call that was made? So that leads you to get in your quarterback's face and have some choice words for him?
This was a tough loss for the Broncos, who do not control their own destiny when it comes to the playoffs. But it's not a crippling loss, as I pointed out earlier in the week that the team can make the playoffs as a 10-win team.
The room for error is now much smaller, but with the New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders as their remaining opponents, they need to put things like this sideline spat behind them quickly and dig in and get those wins.