I’ve already touched on the crappy situation in which the Broncos left themselves by blowing their lead against the Bills. The Broncos did go on to complete the impressive collapse, getting demolished by the Chargers 52-21, embarrassing themselves (and Doc Brown) in the process. Not to be outdone, the Buccaneers lost their final four games of the season to blow a golden opportunity at the playoffs. So which collapse was worse? Let’s go to the tale of the tape.
The Buccaneers were 9-3 having won in Kansas City and Detroit, and at home against the Vikings and Saints to get a four game winning streak going in November. December was a remarkably different month as Tampa Bay got smashed on Monday night against Carolina, lost at Atlanta, then blew home games to the Chargers and Raiders with a playoff berth firmly in their grasp. Even after losing three in a row and dropping to 9-6, all the Buccaneers had to do was beat the Raiders at home and they would have been in the playoffs! They couldn’t even do that! The Bucs limped to a 9-7 finish.
The Broncos were 8-5 and staring an AFC West title in the face. All they had to do was win once and the Chargers would have been eliminated from contention since San Diego was 4-8. Denver had won three straight road games, impressively beating Atlanta, the Jets, and Cleveland on the road. They had won four out of five and were looking strong. A loss to Carolina, a blown lead against Buffalo at home, and the Broncos were suddenly 8-7 and headed to San Diego for an end-of-the-season spanking. They finished 8-8 and were left on the sidelines to watch the playoffs from home. What a shame.
So which collapse was worse, Denver’s or Tampa Bay’s? Furthermore, should these coaches be ridiculed for the downfalls of their teams or supported for their ability to put their teams in a position to win? I think a combination of both is in line and would argue that the collapses were equally bad.