After the San Diego Chargers roasted the Broncos' defense like chestnuts on an open fire, Chicken Little and hysterical Coloradans exclaimed: "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"
I have stared out the window for two days, and flaming, furious meteors are not plummeting from the heavens.
The Broncos lost a game.
The Apocalypse is not now.
The Broncos lost their last regular-season game in 1977, two of their last three games in 1986, the 14th game in 1987, three of the last four in 1989 and two of the last three in both 1997 and 1998.
In all six seasons people here panicked in December and believed the world as we knew it was coming to a hasty end.
Instead, the Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl every time — and won the last two.
Was it over when the acorn dropped on the foul fowl's head?
The Broncos gave the Chargers an early holiday gift far, far better than Tickle Me Elmo, a certificate for the "Jelly of the Month" club or myrrh. Forget 12 drummers drumming; the Broncos had 12 men on the field three times, were offside on a punt and came up with many other defenseless stupidities.
As everyone should have realized already, the Broncos' defense stinks.
Five starters have been injured, ill or demoted; several other players are not playing well; and the defensive coachers are not coaching well.
But the only season the Broncos went to the Super Bowl with an Orange Crush defense was 1977. The other five were because of a Hall of Fame quarterback and his offense. One defensive player from 1998 is on the Ring of Fame.
These Broncos are about a Hall of Fame quarterback and, quite possibly, the most potent offense in the history of the NFL. The offense can't score if it can't get the ball.
Nonetheless, the defense has allowed 28 or fewer points in 11 games.
The offense has scored 27 or more points in 13 games.
If the offense and the defense play their normal games, the Broncos will win 86 percent of the time.
I like those odds more than the Patriots winning at both Miami and Baltimore. New England is 3-3 on the road. And the Chiefs, who finish the season at San Diego, lost at home to the Chargers.
The Broncos are flawed — obviously on defense — but give me an AFC team that isn't. Cincinnati and Indianapolis?
Yes, the Broncos will win their final two games because of their offense. They play indoors against a dysfunctional team and outdoors against a bad team.
No, I don't buy, despite what John Fox and Jack Del Rio claim, that the defense will improve. They have troubles in all three departments.
I've studied 40 seasons, and 14 games this year, of Broncos defense, and here are the changes that should be made before the playoffs:
The Broncos don't have any players on the practice squad worthy of promotion, but they did sign safety Michael Huff, and a couple of intriguing veteran free agents are available. It's time for Matt Russell and Tom Heckert to make up for their follies by doing something right — calling in cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and defensive end/tackle Richard Seymour, two former Pro Bowlers. By the first game of the playoffs, both would be ready to contribute.
In the meantime, the Broncos should move Chris Harris Jr. from nickel back to starting cornerback, where he played exceptionally for Champ Bailey last year. Harris has been the Broncos' steadiest member of the secondary. Put Quentin Jammer at nickel back, and keep Kayvon "Chestnut" Webster on the bench, alongside Tony Carter, when he returns. Huff has been in Denver long enough to play safety over Omar Bolden.
Von Miller always should rush from defensive end and never be stuck in pass coverage.
And Wesley Woodyard should be returned to outside linebacker, playing with Paris Lenon and Danny Trevathan. Woodyard may not be performing at the same high level as earlier in the season at middle linebacker, but he's the only true leader on defense.
Del Rio promised an aggressive defense, but the Broncos have been too passive too long. The defense doesn't have to win games. It just can't make monumental mistakes.
The Broncos have lost past December games 37-10, 34-17 and 31-21 and still made it to the Super Bowl.
You and Chicken Little may think the sky is falling, but Floyd Little doesn't.