Denver’s frustrations on offense reached a boiling point during its latest disappointment with Broncos players seen voicing their displeasure on the sidelines during Sunday’s 23-10 defeat to the Panthers.
After a field goal extended Carolina’s lead to a three-score game in the fourth quarter, Broncos defensive tackle Mike Purcell was seen yelling at Russell Wilson on the sideline as Denver’s offense was gearing up to take the field.
The exchange, which didn’t appear to be friendly, was done with the hopes of bringing a spark to a listless offense, according to Purcell.
“Frustration,” Purcell told reporters after the game. “We want a spark on something. We’re all in this together, period. That’s the quarterback of our offense, they were about to take the field, obviously we let up a touchdown so we weren’t doing our job, but gotta get a spark somewhere.”
Wilson, who kept calm as Purcell dished out his spark-inducing diatribe, said there is no animosity between the two despite how it looked.
“Mike and I are on the same page,” Wilson said. “He came off after they kicked the field goal and he was pissed off and just said, ‘We’ve got to effing go.’ I agree. So, me and him are on the same page. There’s no animosity there at all.”
The Broncos were on the verge of a new low at that point of the game, down, 20-3, and trending toward producing season-low totals in both points and yards. Immediately following Purcell’s spat, Denver’s offense had to wait for its next possession after Jalen Virgil fumbled away the ensuing kickoff to make matters even worse.
Wilson went on to lead the Broncos to pay dirt once finally after getting the ball back, though it didn’t come easy despite Carolina taking its foot off the gas. After offsetting penalties and an overturned review nixed his first two would-be touchdown throws, Wilson found Brandon Johnson for a 1-yard score to finally reach a career milestone of 300 passing touchdowns, becoming the 14th player in NFL history do so and tying John Elway on the all-time list.
Celebrating that feat wasn’t on the mind of Wilson after the play.
“First of all, I’m more happy for Brandon to score his first touchdown,” said Wilson, who had sat on 299 career passing TDs since Week 10. “I’d rather win than anything else. At the end of the day, the only thing I care about, the only record I care about is winning.”
Wilson finished 19-of-35 passing for 142 yards and the TD with no interceptions and a fumble lost. Despite Latavius Murray‘s 92 yards on 13 carries (7.1 YPC), Wilson’s struggles in the passing game continued with inaccurate throws downfield and a broken inner clock that had Panthers pass rushers feasting.
Denver ended up with its lowest net-yard total on the season with 246 and was futile on third down (4 of 12), punted eight times, produced five three-and-outs and had just two drives that saw more than six plays.
Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who turned over the offensive play-calling duties ahead of last week’s game, has experienced the brunt of Denver’s frustrations in his first season, and it is poised to continue following the team’s seventh loss in eight games.
“It’s about the team. I just want to find a way to win a football game,” Hackett said when asked if he had any concerns about his job status. “That’s so important to me. These coaches, these players work so hard, and I just want to be there for them. To be able to try to make them successful out on the field.”
The Broncos (3-8) are on the road in Week 13 to face the Ravens (7-4).