DENVER – A few numbers worth noting from the Broncos’ first defeat since October, a 41-23 thrashing to the New England Patriots here Sunday:
9-5: The demarcation point of the Broncos’ opponents and their results. Denver is 0-3 against teams with nine or more wins, losing those games by an average score of 45-19, with none closer than the 18-point margin Sunday. Against their opponents who have records of 8-6 or worse, the Broncos are 8-3 and haven’t lost by more than three points.
The good news? Denver’s next two games are against 5-9 Buffalo and 6-8 Kansas City. The bad news? If the Steelers or Ravens win once and the Texans defeat the 1-13 Colts on Thursday night, the Broncos can do no better than the fourth seed in the playoffs and are locked into a wild-card date with a team with at least 10 wins already if they hang on to win the AFC West.
27: Consecutive points scored by the Patriots in turning a 16-7 deficit into a 34-16 advantage. Runs like these have been a problem against the playoff-caliber teams Denver has faced this year; the Broncos allowed 28 consecutive points to the Packers and 45 to the Lions.
3-4: The Broncos’ record at Sports Authority Field at Mile High this season, which ensures that they will not have a winning home mark for a fourth consecutive season. Since their last playoff and division-winning season of 2005, the Broncos have logged just one winning home record (5-3 in 2007) and are 23-24 at home, just two games worse than their 21-26 road mark.
The last time prior to 2008-11 that the Broncos went four seasons without a winning home mark was 1971-74, which included home records of 2-4-1 (1971), 3-4 (1972) and 3-3-1 (1973 and 1974). In 1975, the Broncos went 5-2 at Mile High Stadium and began a 24-year streak of consecutive non-strike seasons without a losing record at home (they went 1-4 at Mile High Stadium during the strike-shortened season of 1982).
Minus-3: The Broncos’ turnover margin Sunday, which matches the 45-10 Week 8 loss to Detroit for the worst of the season and the Tim Tebow era.
“The reality is, we’re not at the stage where we can overcome minus-3,” Broncos coach John Fox said after the game.
To be honest, the Broncos might not ever reach that stage. Denver is now 10-83-1 all-time when it has a turnover margin of minus-3 or worse and has lost 14 consecutive games when hitting that dubious mark. Fox’s teams are 0-17 at minus-3 or worse in turnover margin, including one such loss in each of his playoff seasons.
League-wide, teams with minus-3 or worse turnover margins are 1-34 this season. Only the Arizona Cardinals were able to overcome that statistic; in a 21-19 win over the 49ers last week, they overcame a minus-3 margin.
252: Rushing yards for the Broncos on Sunday, the most they’ve ever amassed in a defeat.
Prior to Sunday, 250 ground yards was a guarantee of a Broncos victory; they were 16-0 when hitting that milestone, a run that included the 39-carry, 299-yard performance at Oakland in Week 9 that represented the Broncos’ fourth-best rushing day all-time and their best since Nov. 26, 2000.
Sunday’s tally was the 16th-best in franchise history.
The Broncos became just the fifth team league-wide since 2003 to lose with at least 250 rushing yards — but the second team in the last two weeks. The Vikings fell 34-28 at Detroit last week in spite of rushing for 269 yards.
Including Sunday’s loss, teams that rush for at least 250 yards are 79-5 since the start of the 2003 season.
8.13: Denver’s average per rush Sunday, the fourth-highest figure in franchise history. The Broncos are 1-3 all time in their four best per-carry days.
11-of-22: Tim Tebow’s completion ratio Sunday. He has completed at least 50 percent of his passes in four consecutive games after hovering below 50 percent in his first five starts this season.
Tebow has completed 53.7 percent of his passes in his last four starts — not great, but much better than his 45.2 percent figure in his first five starts this season.