A disastrous Denver Broncos season reached a new low Sunday in a 51-14 road loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Both teams entered the game with matching 4-10 records after entering the 2022 campaign with great expectations and falling well short of them.
However, the defending champion Rams once again looked like Super Bowl contenders for a day as they jumped out to a 17-0 lead after 10 minutes and never looked back.
Meanwhile, the Broncos categorically played their worst football of the year. Quarterback Russell Wilson's struggles continued with interceptions on each of Denver's first two drives thanks to Rams cornerback Cobie Bryant and linebacker Bobby Wagner.
L.A. played complementary football and scored touchdowns in response to each pick with scores via Tyler Higbee and Cam Akers.
Wilson ended the half by completing just 6 of 13 passes for 90 yards and two interceptions, and the Rams tacked on two more scores for a 31-3 edge at halftime.
The second half wasn't much better, with Wilson tossing his third pick on the Broncos' first drive after halftime courtesy of cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Wilson threw a garbage-time touchdown to tight end Greg Dulcich in the fourth quarter and finished the afternoon by completing 15 of 27 passes for 214 yards, one score and three picks.
Both teams emptied their benches in the fourth quarter, and it somehow got even worse for Denver after Broncos backup Brett Rypien tossed a pick-six to Bryant.
The Broncos' defense, which entered the week allowing the third-fewest points per game, showed no signs of life either. Running back Cam Akers amassed 147 total yards and three touchdowns, and tight end Tyler Higbee added nine receptions, 94 yards and two scores. Quarterback Baker Mayfield cruised to a 24-of-28 day for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
Ultimately, Wilson's season-worst performance stood out in a series of discouraging efforts for a team that made a significant long-term investment in him.
Denver traded its first- and second-round picks in 2022 and 2023, a 2022 fifth-rounder and three players (quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant and defensive lineman Shelby Harris) to the Seattle Seahawks for Wilson and a 2022 fourth-rounder.
The Broncos then inked Wilson to a five-year, $245 million extension ($165 million guaranteed), including $124 million at signing.
However, the offense has been stagnant all year. They entered Week 16 scoring a league-worst 15.6 points per game. Wilson entered 27th out of 33 NFL qualifiers in quarterback rating and 28th in QBR, per Pro Football Reference. He has just 12 touchdown passes in 13 games.
It's a perplexing fall for the 34-year-old, a former superstar who has nine Pro Bowls on his resume.
The Broncos had been playing out the string of a lost season well before Sunday, but a terrible outing against a Rams team missing superstar defensive lineman Aaron Donald, quarterback Matt Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp somehow led to Denver reaching its new 2022 nadir.
Twitter let its feelings known about Wilson's performance and the team's trade for him.
Troy Renck @TroyRenck
Russell Wilson is playing like Zach Wilson. Everytime I think it can't get worse this season, these Broncos say, "Hold My Drink." <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Denver7?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Denver7</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Broncos?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Broncos</a> <a href="https://t.co/XRFqW9yAnS">https://t.co/XRFqW9yAnS</a>
Michael Rothstein @mikerothstein
Remember when Russell Wilson would always say "Broncos Country, Let's Ride?"<br><br>The only place the Broncos should want to ride to is the nearest Delorean.<br><br>To go back 12 months.<br><br>To not trade three players, two first round picks and two second round picks for Russell Wilson.
Denver will now visit Patrick Mahomes and the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.