They earned it not by individual shortcomings, but as a team.
Play-calling was certainly a factor—the play on the field came up short in almost every facet, and the Broncos failed to capitalize on all the gifts handed to them.
Denver was able to save its first penalty for the fourth quarter, while never making use of the constant penalties committed by Tennessee.
Denver also kept its turnovers to a minimum until it really mattered. The ones it did commit were actually excusable.
Both turnovers by Denver were interceptions thrown by quarterback Kyle Orton. The first of which was thrown in an attempt to overthrow the linebacker playing underneath coverage; unfortunately, it made it a little too high and missed the hands of the receiver, landing softly in the hands of the covering defensive back.
The second interception was by no means Orton's fault, as the pass was tipped on the line and floated into the arms of a Tennessee defender.
The second pick turned out to be the game-finisher for the Broncos as Tennessee was able to run out the clock and seal their victory. The first one almost didn't exist due to the Titans' Kenny Britt shovel passing the ball back to Denver during a play in which he was injured.
So, why is it the mistakes that plagued Denver the first week against Oakland went away but it still didn't come up with a win?
Personnel decisions, offensive play-calling and the lack of a real playmaker.
John Fox made Knowshon Moreno, D.J. Williams and Elvis Dumervil all part of the 46-man active game-time roster, yet he failed to use any of them during the game.
It's still very early in the season, so it's understandable that a head coach wouldn't want to risk a season-ending injury for some of his best players.
However, why did they take up space on the active roster when the team was in such dire need of help all over the field?
Fox was aware that these players would only come in in an emergency situation, but still had them suit up and warm up the bench. Maybe it would have been a better call to provide some better depth to the remainder of the roster than to have them needlessly dress for the game.
During the fourth quarter, the Broncos had the chance to increase their lead to seven points, but opted instead for the opportunity to drive the nails into the Titans' coffin. As it turns out, the Titans' coffin had yet to be built or delivered to the stadium at this point.
I'll say it right away: If Willis McGahee had scored on his 4th-and-1 attempt and made it a two-possession game, nobody would care about the play-calling in this game because Denver would have won.
However, McGahee didn't score, and Denver didn't win.
Here we are.
Not everything was bad about the loss on Sunday.
The Broncos proved they can stop a real rushing threat, and did so without the help of Williams or Dumervil. They also proved they can score against a good defense—they just didn't take the points they were given when they absolutely needed to.
With the actual return of Dumervil, Williams, Moreno and Champ Bailey expected against Green Bay next week, Denver fans could see even better play against an even better team in the Packers.
Moreno will have the opportunity to earn his starting position back—he may not have formally lost it, but McGahee has already made his case to be the front-runner.
Brandon Lloyd will have another week of practice and recovery under his belt and should prove to be a bigger factor.
Dumervil and Von Miller should hopefully be reunited, and maybe Denver's pass rush will finally be as exciting as it was in the preseason.
As Broncos fans have been saying for years now, there's always next week.
And for anyone who's wondering, Kyle Orton is still the starter—believe that.
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