Despite Broncos' Win, Eric Decker Had a Rough Day on Divisional Sunday

Kristopher KnoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2014

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 12:  Eric Decker #87 of the Denver Broncos drops an onside kick and the San Diego Chargers recover the ball in the fourth quarter during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 12, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Virtually the entire football world was watching Sunday afternoon as the Denver Broncos knocked off the San Diego Chargers to earn a spot in next week's AFC title game.

Though his team earned the victory, Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker might have wished that the audience was a bit more on the small side.

While he was one of the league's most explosive receiving weapons (1,288 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns) during the regular season, Decker's performance Sunday was a little less enthralling and a little more embarrassing.

Decker managed just two receptions for 32 yards on the afternoon and made a number of mistakes—the kind that football fans often refer to as follies.

While returning a punt in the second quarter, Decker appeared to trip over his own feet (or perhaps it was the fabled "turf monster") with nothing but daylight standing in the way to six points. 

The fourth-year wideout also allowed an easy touchdown pass to bounce off his chest just before halftime. The deflected football was picked off by Chargers linebacker Donald Butler, who masterfully demonstrated the correct way to haul in a pass in the back of the end zone.

Then, Decker made another special teams gaffe that could easily have cost Denver the football game.

When the Chargers attempted an onside-kick attempt late in the fourth quarter, Decker once again allowed the football to bounce off of him and into the waiting arms of the opposing team. The ensuing field goal brought San Diego to within a single score with enough time remaining to complete the comeback.

Fortunately, quarterback Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense managed to pick up enough first downs to run out the clock (with no real help from Decker) and put the game away.

Had the offense stalled on Denver's final drive, there is a very real chance that we could be talking about how Decker cost the Broncos a shot at the Super Bowl. He will certainly have to find a way to improve his production and cut down on his miscues moving forward if he hopes to be part of a title run.

In two postseason games with Manning at quarterback, Decker has produced just eight receptions for 116 yards. Most of his production (and few of his mistakes) came in last year's double-overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

To be fair, even the best players will have an off day once in a while. Fortunately for Decker, he will only have to reflect on his latest one for the next week and not for an entire offseason.