DENVER — Following the Broncos' season-opening loss to the Raiders, there was little question about the difficulty of a one-point defeat.
"Obviously a disappointing loss," Head Coach Sean Payton said. "Kind of a hard-fought game that we kind of felt at halftime this was going to come down to a possession. We didn't make enough plays."
Added quarterback Russell Wilson: "We should have won that game."
And yet, despite a 17-16 loss in which Denver surrendered a fourth-quarter lead, there was no panic or worry that the Broncos were headed for another difficult season.
"No one's thinking about the last seven years," safety Justin Simmons said. "It's a new year. It was a close game, we've just got to figure it out. It's Week 1. No one's throwing in the towel. We'll watch the film, we'll come back, we'll make adjustments and we'll win those games down the road."
Despite the loss, the Broncos' play suggested plenty of reasons for optimism. Denver's offense scored on its opening drive of the season for the first time since 2008, and the Wilson-led group perfectly executed a two-minute drill that gave Denver a 13-10 halftime lead.
"We had six possessions," Wilson said. "I thought we did well on pretty much all of them. I think the biggest thing is finding one more play here. We knew it was going to be a fight. We knew it was going to be a battle. We thought we were going to come out on top; unfortunately, we didn't."
Defensively, the Broncos held Josh Jacobs — the NFL's leading rusher from a season ago — to 2.5 yards per carry and limited All-Pro receiver Davante Adams to six catches for 66 yards.
So while each unit has mistakes to correct, the veterans in Denver's locker room didn't want to make one loss seem insurmountable.
"We lost by one point, and we had opportunities to win this game," right tackle Mike McGlinchey said. "To go back and think we need to reinvent the wheel and change everything is crazy. It's just about getting better at those small little details that unfortunately cost us this win. It's my job to do my job first and do that at the highest level and prepare at the highest level and everybody else will do the same. And then help out where you see fit.
"… We're not going to hit the panic button for this. It's a challenge. We're on our way up, and there's going to be bumps along the road. When you're starting over a franchise and [have] a new head coach and a new team, things like this happen. I guarantee you 17 weeks from now, we're going to be a lot better for it."
From McGlinchey to Zach Allen to Pat Surtain II, veterans on both sides of the ball agreed with the sentiment that there's plenty more football to be played — and a tough Week 1 loss won't define their 2023 campaign.
"It's a long season ahead," Surtain said. "We have a lot to look forward to as a team. This is only the beginning. I have trust and belief in everybody on this team. I know we're going to get better and improve."
And McGlinchey, who has been on playoff teams and played on the biggest stage, emphasized there could still be plenty in store for the Broncos.
"It's just about getting better each and every week, and you never know when you can catch fire," McGlinchey said. "One game is not something that's going to turn this locker room into a bunch of sulkers. We're going to be all right. We're going to keep our heads down to the grindstone and get ready to go for Washington next week."