Plenty of blame to go around for Bron­cos

The Sentinel-Record - - SPORTS - ARNIE STAPLETON

DEN­VER — Quar­ter­back Brock Osweiler takes the blame for Den­ver’s sput­ter­ing of­fense. Brock Olivo keeps say­ing the un­ceas­ing blun­ders on special teams are his fault.

“My bad,” Osweiler said af­ter the Bron­cos stalled three times in­side the New Eng­land 21 in their 41-16 loss to New Eng­land that con­tin­ued a sea­son-long trend of set­tling for field goals.

“It’s not the first time we couldn’t score touch­downs,” Osweiler noted. “But that starts with me. I’m go­ing to have to watch the tape and see what de­ci­sions I could have made dif­fer­ently.”

Olivo’s aw­ful special teams units had their worst show­ing yet with four foul-ups in Den­ver’s fifth con­sec­u­tive dou­ble-digit loss that dropped the Bron­cos 3-6.

Might one or both pay with his job? Rookie coach Vance Joseph wouldn’t com­mit to stick­ing with Osweiler against Cincin­nati next week, say­ing, “We’re go­ing to watch the tape to­mor­row as a staff and de­ter­mine who the quar­ter­back is next week.”

He seemed to in­di­cate that he’ll be stick­ing with his rookie special teams co­or­di­na­tor, how­ever.

“When you lose like this, it’s on all of us,” Joseph said when asked if he’d make a change on his coach­ing staff mid­sea­son. “It’s a staff that we chose and that we feel great about. I wouldn’t say that; I would say it’s on all of us. We have to coach bet­ter and play bet­ter.”

That’s the same mantra Joseph has been re­peat­ing ever since the Bron­cos lost to the New York Giants on Oct. 15. Since then, they’ve been outscored by 97 points, the worst point dif­fer­en­tial in the NFL in that span.

“We still have a good foot­ball team in us,” in­sisted Von Miller, who was once again neu­tral­ized by an early deficit. “But what we put out there is a bad foot­ball team.”

It would seem un­likely the Bron­cos would turn to Pax­ton Lynch, who failed even against vanilla de­fenses in the pre­sea­son, as long as they have a pulse in the play­off race, but the Bron­cos could go back to Trevor Siemian, who was benched two weeks ago.

The prob­lem, how­ever, wasn’t so much the sput­ter­ing of­fense as it was their hor­rific special teams.

For the first time since 1979, the Pa­tri­ots had a special teams take­away, a blocked punt and a kick­off return for a touch­down , a tri­fecta that fu­eled a com­fort­able 27-9 half­time lead.

Dion Lewis has a 103-yard kick­off return and Rex Burk­head blocked a punt af­ter catch­ing a touch­down pass.

“That was great,” Tom Brady said. “We know the cal­iber of spe­cial­ists we have. They do not get op­por­tu­ni­ties very of­ten and the only got one op­por­tu­nity tonight. Dion Lewis took it to the house so that was pretty sweet. And then the blocked punt was great and set up for great field

po­si­tion. Those were two huge plays.”

He didn’t even men­tion Bron­cos rookie re­turner Isa­iah McKen­zie’s muffed punt, his fifth fum­ble of the sea­son, or the Bron­cos get­ting caught with 12 men the next time the Pa­tri­ots punted, re­sult­ing in a first down — and an­other touch­down.

The Associated Press

WIN­NING WAYS: New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady (12) throws as Den­ver Bron­cos out­side line­backer Shaquil Bar­rett (48) pur­sues dur­ing the sec­ond half of Sun­day’s game in Den­ver. The win marked the first back-to-back wins for the Pa­tri­ots in Den­ver in 51 years.

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