The Su­per Bowl 50 cham­pi­ons be­gan this sea­son 4-0, and then it all fell apart.

The Bron­cos’ at­tempt to de­fend their Su­per Bowl cham­pi­onship came to an end Sun­day night at Kansas City’s Ar­row­head Sta­dium. But their sea­son fell apart in pieces af­ter a 4-0 start. A look at some of the key mo­ments:

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nick Groke The Den­ver Post

SEPT. 8 Win vs. Carolina, 21-20

Take­away: The Bron­cos were un­der­dogs at home to open the sea­son, but beat the Pan­thers for the se­cond time in nine months. C.J. An­der­son rushed for 92 yards and a score. Rookie full­back Andy Janovich scored on the first carry of his NFL ca­reer.

Key num­ber: 83. Den­ver’s No-Fly Zone de­fense held Carolina quar­ter­back Cam New­ton to 83 aerial yards in the se­cond half, on 7-of-16 pass­ing.

OCT. 9 Loss vs. At­lanta, 23-16

Take­away: Af­ter start­ing 4-0, the Bron­cos’ first loss ex­posed some sig­nif­i­cant cracks in their ar­mor. The Fal­cons won on the road by tar­get­ing the mid­dle of Den­ver’s de­fense, us­ing run­ning backs and tight ends on short passes over the mid­dle to gain huge chunks of yardage. Bron­cos rookie quar­ter­back Pax­ton Lynch, start­ing in place of the in­jured Trevor Siemian, strug­gled.

Key num­ber: 132. The Fal­cons’ lead­ing re­ceiver was run­ning back Tevin Cole­man, who caught four passes for 132 yards. Den­ver’s de­fense had trou­ble ad­just­ing.

NOV. 6 Loss at Oak­land, 30-20

Take­away: The bal­ance of power in the AFC West took a seis­mic shift as the Raiders beat up Den­ver, ex­pos­ing more weak­nesses. Oak­land’s of­fen­sive line steam­rolled the Bron­cos to the tune of 218 yards rush­ing.

Key num­ber: 33. While Oak­land ran wild, the Bron­cos’ ground game fiz­zled. They fin­ished with only 33 yards rush­ing, led by Devon­tae Booker’s 22.

NOV. 13 Win at New Or­leans, 25-23

Take­away: The Bron­cos re­bounded from the loss to Oak­land with a near-mir­a­cle fin­ish. The Saints were kick­ing the goa­head ex­tra point late in the game when Justin Sim­mons leaped over the line to block the kick. Fel­low rookie Will Parks caught the de­flec­tion and re­turned it for Den­ver’s win­ning two points.

Key num­ber: 8. Siemian con­nected with eight re­ceivers while throw­ing for 258 yards, led by De­mary­ius Thomas’ eight re­cep­tions for 87 yards.

NOV. 27 Loss vs. Kansas City, 30-27, OT

Take­away: The Bron­cos’ last le­git­i­mate chance to stay alive in the race for the AFC West ti­tle slipped away when Bran­don McManus missed a 62-yard field goal in over­time and the Chiefs soon af­ter kicked the win­ning field goal. The Bron­cos blew nu­mer­ous chances to put the game away; Kansas City scored eight points in the fi­nal sec­onds of reg­u­la­tion to send the game into over­time.

Key num­ber: 5. The Bron­cos went 26-9 in the AFC West while win­ning five con­sec­u­tive divi­sion ti­tles through last sea­son. But af­ter the loss to the Chiefs, they were 1-3 in the AFC West this year.

DEC. 18 Loss vs. Pa­tri­ots, 16-3

Take­away: A loss in the pre­vi­ous week to the Ti­tans at Ten­nessee put the Bron­cos’ play­off chances on life sup­port, but a loss at home to New Eng­land re­moved all con­trol from the Bron­cos. They needed to win out and get help. Den­ver’s of­fense moved the ball well early, but Siemian threw an in­ter­cep­tion that turned the tide early in the se­cond quar­ter.

Key num­ber: 13. The Bron­cos’ of­fense dis­ap­peared in back-to-back losses, rush­ing for just 18 yards against the Ti­tans and scor­ing just 13 points in two games.

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