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Orange Jerseys. Red Faces. Broncos embarrassed in historic rout

Dolphins score 70 as Denver remains winless
Posted: 2:18 PM, Sep 24, 2023
Updated: 2023-09-25 09:03:45-04
Broncos Dolphins Football

MIAMI – A few minutes before 1 p.m. local time, the P.A. announcer introduced the Miami Dolphins for their home opener. T.D., the team’s finned mascot, led them onto the field and began talking trash to Broncos kicker Wil Lutz.

It was symbolic of a humid Sunday when the Dolphins mocked Denver for three hours, racing to an historic victory at Hard Rock Stadium.

Orange jerseys, red faces.

This was humiliating, rivaling last year’s Christmas meltdown in Los Angeles. The Dolphins set a franchise record for points six seconds into the fourth quarter, breaking a mark set in 1977. In their storied history, the Broncos had never allowed 60 points until Sunday’s debacle. Or 70, two shy of the NFL regular season record established in 1966.

Forget talk of a winning record or reaching the postseason, the Broncos face the sobering question of when will they win a game? Next Sunday at Chicago and the following week at home vs. the Jets offer hope, but given how bad they are right now, especially on defense, they represent an easy mark for anyone.

The Dolphins treated them as a chew toy, putting together a first half that brought back memories of the Broncos’ Super Bowls in the 1980s. Miami opened a 35-13 lead, 10 shy of the most points ever scored vs. Denver in a first half. The Dolphins averaged 9.8 yards per play, Tua Tagovailoa completed all 16 of his passes for 206 yards and Tyreek Hill eclipsed 100 yards receiving.

Is it any wonder the Broncos have not won a road game stateside since Nov. 7, 2021, a stretch spanning 12 games.

Inside gate 6 in the orange parking lot four hours before kickoff, the mood was festive. Snoop Dogg and Pit Bull tunes reverberated across the field as fans tossed a football and talked of Miami staying undefeated.

The Dolphins justified their confidence. The Broncos apparently watched CU on Saturday and said, “Hold my drink.” Miami cut through Denver’s defense like a speed boat on glass water, leaving destruction and embarrassment in its wake. This team takes shots like its playing NBA 2K. From deep strikes to Hill to bursts from Raheem Mostert and a no-look pass from Tagovailoa to Devon Achane, the Dolphins looked like the NFL’s version of Cirque do Soleil as they set a franchise record for touchdowns and yards in a game.

In a matchup of former Broncos coaches running defenses – Vance Joseph for Denver, Vic Fangio for Miami – the results were alarming. With the temperature turning up on Joseph, his group had no answers, looking confused and depleted without star safety Justin Simmons. Miami coach Mike McDaniel went right at the weakness as starter Delarrin Turner-Yell fell for the crosser in front of him, vacating the area that Hill filled and raced 54 yards for the opening touchdown. It was Hill’s 24th career touchdown of 50-plus yards as he eclipsed 2,000 yards with his new team after a decorated career with the Chiefs.

After a three-and-out by the Broncos, Miami responded with a nine-play scoring drive. Tagovailoa was percolating and Achane finished it off with an 8-yard scamper. Miami’s third touchdown widened eyes as Tagovailoa took a deep drop in play action and flipped a no-look pass to Archane, who raced into the end zone, opening a 21-7 lead with 10:16 remaining in the half.

The Broncos offense countered but managed rabbit punches to Miami’s haymakers. Russell Wilson continued his string of terrific first halves, completing 16 for 24 for 193 yards and a touchdown, his fifth before intermission this season. On Denver’s second drive, he scrambled right and hit an open Courtland Sutton streaking across the back of the end zone. It represented Sutton’s second touchdown of the season after entering the year with two scores in his previous 26 games. But his day was ruined by a pair of fumbles that led to Miami touchdowns. In fairness, everything led to a Dolphins touchdown.

"Embarassing”: Broncos coach reacts to humiliating loss in Miamii

Though it seemed futile given the lack of resistance provided by Denver’s defense, the Broncos offense misfired twice, preventing a respectable first-half deficit. A touchdown to Sutton was called back when the officials ruled Brandon Johnson ran a pick. The Broncos settled for a field goal. Then, in the only non-scoring drive by Miami, Denver failed to capitalize.

Showing understandable arrogance, Miami went for it on fourth-and-1 from its own 34. Zach Allen and Singleton stuffed the run. The Broncos took over down 21-10 and lost seven yards on three plays, left to helplessly punt. Denver tried to build momentum at end of half, but a Jerry Jeudy touchdown was negated by a Johnson penalty for not being set before the snap. So, instead of the potential of back-to-back scores, Denver ended the half with a field goal and punted on the first drive in the third quarter.

Denver’s miserable second halves continued, the lone highlight Marvin Mims Jr.’s 99-yard kickoff return.

The Dolphins raced to a 56-13 lead early in the fourth quarter. Mostert finished with four touchdowns, matching Achane’s total. Yes, their two running backs combined for eight scores. And Miami became the first team in NFL history to record five passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns in the same game.

Tua, mercifully gave way to backup Mike White, having completed 23 of 26 passes for 309 yards and four scores. They backups didn’t care. They kept stepping on Denver’s chest. Achane’s 67-yard run gave Miami 70 points, two shy of the NFL regular season record.

The Broncos offense remains out of balance, chasing points that makes the running game disappear. But the defense is a mess, casting doubt about Joseph’s role. From the middle of the second quarter vs. Washington to the first play of the fourth quarter Sunday, the Broncos were outscored 94-25.

"I have never been involved with anything like this," Allen said. "We knew it was a good offense and complex. But it's the NFL. Nobody should be getting 70 points scored on them."

Payton was brought to Denver to change the culture and create accountability. It’s fair to assume he faces his first crisis three weeks into the season. The team experienced a tough training camp with long meetings and detailed practices. It has not translated on Sundays.

What buttons will Payton push next as this team tries to rebound from the type of loss that will leave a stench for years to come?

"This season is full a lot of (difficult) moments. This one is obviously hard sitting here talking to you guys at 0-3," Payton said, "It's disappointing. I am at a loss for words. I have been on the other side of games like that and then every once in a while you get your butt whipped. But this was more than that."


The Broncos inactive list did not include rookie cornerback Riley Moss. He made his season debut roughly seven weeks following sports hernia surgery. With Moss active, it created flexibility for nickel corner Essang Bassey to play free safety in Justin Simmons' absence. Simmons sat out with a groin/hip injury. The inactives: Simmons, outside linebacker Frank Clark (hip), Alex Forsyth, Elijah Garcia, Ronnie Perkins, and JL Skinner. ...

Broncos won toss with tails call and deferred. They are 3-0 coin tosses this season. ...

Linebacker Josey Jewell walked off slowly in the second quarter with a groin injury and did not return.