Denver Broncos 'dropped the ball' and a chance at AFC West lead

DENVER -- First place in the AFC West right now might be akin to being the best center in a 5-foot-9-and-under basketball league. Still, the Denver Broncos' ugly 30-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday kept them from a tie for the flawed division's lead.

The Broncos took all of the goodwill they brought home from Dallas following a 30-16 win over the Cowboys in Week 9 and squandered it in a festival of penalties, red zone stumbles, porous run defense, a blocked field goal attempt and an 83-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Eagles cornerback Darius Slay.

"We missed an opportunity, we dropped the ball, straight up," Broncos defensive end Dre'Mont Jones said. "... To go out there and get our ass kicked ... it hurts a little bit."

A win Sunday would have meant the Broncos had answered a four-game losing streak with wins over Washington, Dallas and the Eagles. Instead they sit at 5-5 heading into their bye week.

"We couldn't handle what they do best, which is run the ball with the quarterback involved in it," Broncos coach Vic Fangio said after the loss to the Eagles.

The Eagles' 214 rushing yards on 40 carries knocked the Broncos out. Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts finished with 53 yards rushing yards, and running backs Jordan Howard and Boston Scott had 83 and 81 yards rushing, respectively.

"I would call it a combination of us not executing and, probably, like, coaching, pretty much that simple," Jones said.

Asked to expand on the "coaching" element, Jones said:

"A combination of both, the scheme, probably a good call we didn't do it the right way, and then there would be a bad call and we couldn't execute it. We just got to do a better job to intertwine both."

After holding the Cowboys, who have been among the league's rushing leaders for much of the season, to 78 yards on the ground the week before, the Broncos surrendered 48 yards rushing on the Eagles' first two possessions, which resulted in a 10-0 lead.

The Broncos, who converted just 1 of 11 third-down attempts, have answered their two brightest moments -- the 3-0 start to the season and the win in Dallas -- with some of their worst football.

"It sucks, man," said running back Melvin Gordon III. "We set ourselves up in prime position to hit this bye going in on a hot streak ... [but] it's still up in the air, man. ... We're not closing it in, not saying to hell with the season."

When the Broncos return from their bye, they will have five AFC West games among their final seven games of the season. The Broncos will also face winless Detroit and and the Cincinnati Bengals -- both at home.

"This is going to be a make-it-or-break-it point now," Jones said. "... If we don't do it, everybody is going to be pissed."