With their Mile High Magic and Mile High Mystique, the Denver Broncos were once a franchise synonymous with winning seasons and respect in the AFC. Those days feel farther away than ever in the Mile High City.
For the fourth straight year, the Broncos have gone home following their 16 game regular season.
For the third straight year they have failed to pass eight wins.
And, for the second straight year, they have been embarrassed in their final game, a game that has in both cases carried playoff implications.
The Denver Broncos that played today against the 3-12 Kansas City Chiefs looked unprepared and, for lack of a better term, downright bad.
This was quite similar to how last year's Broncos looked in their final game against the San Diego Chargers.
Two years, different coaches, different core players, but the same result. The Denver Broncos had it all in front of them this season, and they let it all slip away, the same as they did last year.
Synonymous with "collapse."
The 2009 Broncos fooled fans into believing that this year would be different. They started out 6-0, respected as one of the dominant teams in the AFC. It all fell apart after their week seven bye.
Losses to the Ravens, Steelers, Redskins, and Chargers put the Broncos into a dangerous tailspin. They were able to rebound with wins against the Giants and Chiefs, only to complete their collapse by "running the table" the wrong way.
After a loss to the Colts, the Broncos sat at 8-6 and in command of the AFC's fifth seed. With games against the Raiders and Chiefs at home, they were fully expected to easily reach ten wins and walk into the postseason.
Needless to say, they did not. Amid the controversial benching of top receiving threats Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler, the Denver Broncos' season went down in flames once again on Sunday.
There will be many decisions to make this offseason, the least of which includes dealing with Brandon Marshall, as his troubled relationship with Josh McDaniels appears to have reached the boiling point.
There is nothing more to say about the 2009 season. The team will have to take what they can, having learned the hard way that it is rarely beneficial to peak in the first six weeks of the season.
They do have a relatively strong core of players and coaches, and now it is time to try once again to avoid yet another repeat in 2010.
For the sake of poetic justice and karma, Jay Cutler finished with seven wins, and can only dream about what might have been for him, had he stayed in Denver.