ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — With seven minutes and 43 seconds remaining in Sunday's game against the Bills, it appeared the Broncos' offense would get one final chance — down seven points — to put together a scoring drive.
On third-and-six from the Denver 46-yard line, Tyrod Taylor dropped back to pass and targeted Jordan Matthews on the right side of the field. The pass was tipped, though, and Von Miller applied a hit as Taylor let go of the ball.
As the Broncos jogged off the field, Miller leaned down to offer Taylor a hand. And then he pulled the hand away in a joking fashion.
There was no ill intent on Miller's part. Both players were laughing, and it seemed to be nothing more than a moment of levity in an otherwise competitive game.
That is, until the referee threw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The 15-yard penalty gave the Bills a first down, and they bled the clock down to just over three minutes before kicking a field goal to push the lead to 10. For all intents and purposes, it ended the Broncos' chances.
After the game, though, Miller refused to blame the referee for the situation.
"I can't put my team in a situation like that," Miller said. "I've brought us home 50 million times. I've closed games 50 million times. I've got to be smarter than that. I'm always on the rookies and all the young guys on being smart and doing this and doing that, and I go out there and do something like that in a crucial situation in the game. I've just got to be better than that.
"I haven't been in [these] situations since my rookie season, but one thing about it [is], I'm always able to bounce back. I always learn from my mistakes. I just can't kill us. I killed the game today with that penalty. I just have to be better than that, and I will be better than that."
Head Coach Vance Joseph said he didn't see the play in question, but he said the referee "called it, so I guess that's what he thought it was. It's pro football, but he called it."
Miller said generally, he doesn't even talk to the quarterbacks against whom he plays. But he knows Taylor, and the two had been joking throughout the game. On that play, though, he knows he needs to have better awareness.
"On that play, I made a very, very crucial mistake at a vital point in the game," Miller said. "I can't do stuff like that, especially after a hit on the quarterback. I've got to help him up. I've got to be a better sportsman. I just can't put our team in situations like that."