A tough loss at home to the Ravens caused the Broncos to slip from the undefeated ranks. However, the true test of Denver's season will not be Baltimore, but how the Broncos bounce back as they move forward, as NFL.com's Jeffri Chadiha writes.
"We just have to respond," OLB Von Miller said following the game. "We just got to rack 'em up, look at this [game] for a couple hours, get back in the lab on Monday and let's respond."
The Broncos will have their first opportunity to respond this weekend as they take on the Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. And this game could hold even more weight than the Week 4 tilt with Baltimore, as it could show exactly what this Denver team is made of. They can choose to use it as an opportunity to bounce back from adversity and show their teeth instead of sliding into a losing streak.
"How Denver responds will say plenty about its prospects for the rest of the season," Chadiha wrote. "We already knew the race for AFC playoff spots was going to be fierce when this season ensued. Now the AFC West has turned into one of the most competitive divisions in football, with the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders all enjoying better starts than the defending conference champion Kansas City Chiefs."
Much of Denver's problems vs. the Ravens came down to injuries, as Chadiha notes. A healthy Broncos roster might have fared quite differently against Baltimore.
"The reality is that the Broncos would have had a much better chance in this game if they hadn't been crippled by injuries," Chadiha said. "They were already down six starters coming into this contest and their starting quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, didn't play in the second half after suffering a concussion late in the second quarter."
Luckily for Denver, some of the injuries to their roster are short-term. WR Jerry Jeudy and CB Ronald Darby will both be eligible to return from IR soon, guards Dalton Risner and Graham Glasgow could be back sooner than later and OLB Bradley Chubb is working to return sometime this season as well.
But in the meantime, the Broncos depth will need to step up and find a way to win.
"The good news for the Broncos is that they're still 3-1," Chadiha said. "They have a chance to regain their momentum if their depth is as good as advertised."
Denver's upcoming slate of games will be tougher than the first quarter of their schedule, and they will face those tests without some of their biggest playmakers. But that's why their depth — lauded all preseason as potentially the best in the league — will have to be as good as expected, if not better.
"They have one of the best rosters in football, but it's been tested over the past month," Chadiha said.
The Broncos will continue to see starters return to the fold over the next few weeks, but until then, they will have to win games on the strength of their depth, no matter the challenge.
"That's what good teams do: They find a way to get the job done," Chadiha said.
Below the Fold
Broncos Country is home to some of the NFL's most loyal and dedicated fans, many of whom reside here in Denver. But the second-largest Broncos fan base actually resides not in a neighboring state, but in Mexico.
"The largest concentration of Broncos fans outside of the Denver metro area … is in Mexico City," Broncos Senior Marketing Manager Marisol Villagomez said.
It was late Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen who made the initial push to expand the Broncos brand south to Mexico.
"Early to mid-90s, Mr. Bowlen was very much of proponent of growing the brand," Villagomez said. "In 1997 the Denver Broncos had a preseason game in Mexico City where they faced the Dolphins. We didn't have much luck in the game, but it was enough for us to essentially start harvesting some initial activations there."
That early foothold has helped to build a stronghold of Broncos fans in Mexico City that has grown well into the thousands.
"Every week, Mexico City residents Antonio Menendez and Hector 'Frank' Talby break down the Denver Broncos games in Spanish for thousands of Latino Broncos fans," DENVER7's Micah Smith said.
Despite the distance from Denver, Broncos Country is strong in Mexico.
"Menendez and Talby said even though Denver is more than 1,700 miles away from their home, Mexico City is also Broncos Country," Smith said.