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'That was terrible, and that was not us': Broncos embarrassed by performance in 51-14 loss to Rams

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — There was no Christmas miracle to save the Broncos this week.

And in a 51-14 loss to the Rams, there wasn't anything to celebrate, either.

On an afternoon in which frustrations boiled over for Denver, the Broncos fell behind 17-0 in the first quarter following a pair of interceptions and suffered their largest loss in 12 years.

"Everybody's frustrated," Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said after the loss. "That was a bad game. Embarrassing game."

In a game that was supposed to be an opportunity for the Broncos to build momentum from a pair of strong offensive performances, Denver instead found itself on the wrong side of a blowout loss.

"The bottom line is unacceptable, and it starts with me," Russell Wilson said.

Wilson threw a season-high three interceptions — two in the first 30 minutes — and the offense managed just six points before halftime. Wilson's third interception came with the Broncos trailing by 25 points and searching for a way to get back in the game. Wilson looked deep to Greg Dulcich in the end zone, but he was picked off by Jalen Ramsey.

"We have to play smart football," Hackett said. "In the end, we want to be aggressive, but we can't be overly aggressive. He might have pressed a little bit. I've got to look at the tape and get a better feel for it. But in those situations, we've got to be smart with it — whether we're checking it down, whether we're moving on in our progression, whatever it might be. We just have to do a better job coaching [and with] everything."

Wilson took responsibility for his play, saying he "let the team down" with his performance on Sunday. Asked how the Broncos can fix the issues that have plagued them this season, Wilson said the improvement needed to begin with his own play.

"I think a lot needs to happen, but number one is, I've got to play to the standard that I know how to play to," Wilson said.

A previously strong Denver defense, meanwhile, allowed scores on all eight of the Rams' possessions, excluding a final-play kneel down.

"I think plain and simple, we just got our [behind] kicked, all across the board," Justin Simmons said. "Run [and] pass. All 11 of us didn't do our job. That was obviously the [difference] in the game."

Added DeShawn Williams: "It's one of [those games] like basketball. That team is hitting all the threes and you can't do a damn thing about it. They were just clicking, and that's just how it was. That's how it was."

After a season of close losses, the Broncos delivered a performance that both Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett and Wilson described as unacceptable.

"I think we're all frustrated," Wilson said. "I think we are all frustrated, because we feel like we can be better. We feel like we're more capable of being better. We feel like we've had some good moments and all that, but nobody wants to put out what we put out today. That was terrible, and that was not us. That was not very good."

Instead of a win, the Broncos were left with a series of statistics to describe the brutal loss.

Denver suffered its largest defeat since a 59-14 loss to the Raiders in 2010, and the Rams' 31 first-half points were the most allowed by the Broncos since a 2017 meeting with Eagles. The Rams later crossed the 50-point mark with a pick-six of Brett Rypien, who replaced Wilson when Hackett decided the game was out of reach. Denver had not allowed 50 points in a game since that same 2017 loss to Philadelphia.

"We went in with this mindset that we were going to be able to win this game, but in the end, we weren't ready," Hackett said. "We didn't do the things that we were looking to do. … It wasn't good enough."

And in the defeat, the Broncos were left with more than just an ugly loss. They ended Christmas Day with a sense of embarrassment, as well.

"I know it always starts with me, without a doubt," Hackett said. "That was embarrassing. I'm embarrassed. That's not what we're about. That's not what we've done all year."

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