|9/9||at buffalo bills||15-14|
|9/16||oakland raiders (OT)||23-20|
|9/30||at indianapolis colts||20-38|
|10/7||san diego chargers||3-41|
|10/29||green bay packers (OT)||13-19|
|11/4||at detroit lions||7-44|
|11/11||at kansas city chiefs||27-11|
|11/25||at chicago bears (OT)||34-37|
|12/2||at oakland raiders||20-34|
|12/9||kansas city chiefs||41-7|
|12/13||at houston texans||13-31|
|12/24||at san diego chargers||3-23|
|12/30||minnesota vikings (OT)||22-19|
A SEASON THAT NEVER TOOK FLIGHT
Although the Broncos had not won any Super Bowls since John Elway’s retirement, they had remained competitive. From 2000-06, they made the playoffs four times, had six winning seasons and never finished below .500. They weren’t champions, but they were consistently in the hunt.
That changed in 2007, when the Broncos finished 7-9 and were mathematically eliminated from postseason consideration before Christmas.
In his 15th season, Jason Elam was perhaps all that separated the year from being a disaster. Four of the Broncos’ seven wins were on walk-off field goals as the Broncos finished with a minus-89 point differential more typical of a five- or four-win team than the 7-9 club they were.
Jay Cutler settled in as the starting quarterback and had a solid first full season under center, throwing for 20 touchdowns and 3,497 yards on 297-of-467 passing with 14 interceptions and an 88.1 rating. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall emerged as a star, helping fill the void created when a hip injury kept Rod Smith out for the year and hastened his 2008 retirement.
But the long-vaunted ground game was inconsistent, struggling after Tom Nalen suffered a season-ending injury. Free-agent pickup Travis Henry didn’t pan out, plagued by injuries and legal and personal troubles that ended his career after the 2007 season.
Worse was the defense, which collapsed in 2007 under injuries and scheme issues. Defensive coordinator Larry Coyer had been dismissed after the 2006 season, replaced by Jim Bates, whose defense allowed 107 points over a three-game stretch at midseason. The Broncos finished 30th in rushing defense and Bates was dismissed after the year.
Exacerbating matters was the fact that the Broncos conceded seven touchdowns on various returns, including two to Chicago’s Devin Hester that led to a 37-34 overtime loss at Soldier Field that stopped a two-game winning streak and effectively squelched any chance at a late-season revival.