There is no better critic than the scoreboard. There is no hubris that could stand in the way of the evidence before the 70-plus-thousand person jury, all clad and united in orange solemnly making their way home from Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The conviction Saturday was glaring; John Fox was guilty.
After giving up a 70-yard touchdown to the Ravens with under a minute to play, tying the game at 35, the Broncos received the ball.
“There is a certain amount of shock value, a little bit like a prize fighter taking a right cross on the chin at the end of a round. We’re looking to get out of the round. That might not be the ideal time to go for a knockout punch,” head coach John Fox said of the situation before his squad.
Yet, thirty-one second illuminated the clock; two timeouts remained in Fox’s back pocket. Under center was the most clutch player in NFL history Peyton Manning, with 38 fourth quarter comeback wins to his soon to be bronzed name. And all Denver needed was about forty-five yards, giving kicker Matt Prater a more than realistic chance of sending the Broncos to the AFC Championship Game.
Fox continued, “It just didn’t seem the right time. It didn’t look like the right look, understandably, to go for the jugular right about then.”
Instead, he decided to play for overtime, where the Broncos lost 38-35. Manning took a knee, the usual celebratory formation appeared to be more cowardly, eclipsing the remaining moments on the clock.
Given the circumstances, and over 48 hours to let it sink in Fox affirmed his thoughts.
“That’s a choice we made and, honestly, I would do it again,” Fox said Monday, rhetorically at the end of the year press conference.
It was a season foiled by not players, nor a single play, but the lack thereof.