ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The attempted joke backfired on linebacker Von Miller.
Actually, very little went right for the rest of the Denver Broncos, too, in falling to 2-1 following a 26-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
It was Miller, however, who accepted the brunt of the blame after being flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct in helping the Bills extend their final scoring drive late in the fourth quarter.
After stopping Buffalo on third-and-6 at Denver’s 46, Miller offered his hand in what appeared to be an attempt to help up Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor. And then Miller pulled his hand away at the last second in front of an official, who immediately threw a flag.
“I’ve got to be better than that. It hits you in the stomach,” Miller said. “I just can’t kill us. I killed the game today with that penalty. I’ve just got to be better than that.”
The Broncos could’ve been better in a variety of areas in looking nothing like the team that rolled to a 42-17 win over Dallas last weekend.
Quarterback Trevor Siemian threw two interceptions to end two of Denver’s final four drives. The other two ended when the Broncos turned the ball over on downs, including once on a fake punt in the final seconds of the third quarter.
Facing fourth-and-2 at their 31, De’Angelo Henderson took the direct snap and was limited to a 1-yard gain after being tackled from behind by Deon Lacey.
It didn’t help that Broncos cornerback Lorenzo Doss was late in scrambling onto the field.
“We had a late sub on the field so we kind of gave them time to adjust,” coach Vance Joseph said. “It didn’t work, but in my opinion, it was the perfect timing.”
The Bills capitalized on their next possession, with Stephen Hauschka hitting a 53-yard field goal to put Buffalo ahead 23-16.
The Broncos defense did its part in holding LeSean McCoy to 21 yards on 14 carries and 48 yards on seven catches.
Denver, however, couldn’t contain Taylor, who went 20 of 26 for 213 yards and two touchdowns.
Jamaal Charles scored Denver’s lone touchdown on a 12-yard run, with Brandon McManus accounting for the rest of the scoring by making three field goals.
“I think we probably got panicked a little bit and didn’t execute on some of the plays,” Charles said. “Missed opportunities.”
Denver lost despite holding the edge over Buffalo in several categories, including 21-16 in first downs and 366-272 in yards of offense.
The Broncos even limited the Bills to scoring two field goals on three Buffalo drives that began inside Denver’s 35.
“Yeah, the stats say we should have won,” receiver Demaryius Thomas said. “With those turnovers, it’s hard to beat anyone in this league.”
Miller had one of Denver’s three sacks and was also in on six tackles.
Miller and the Broncos also had an emotional start to the game, with more than half of their players taking a knee along the sideline during the national anthem. It was part of an NFL-wide protest in response to President Donald Trump suggesting owners should fire players who kneel during the anthem.
“Me and my teammates, we felt like President Trump’s speech was an assault on our most cherished right: freedom of speech,” Miller said. “We felt like, as a team, we had to do something. We couldn’t just let things go.”
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