Broncos head coach Vic Fangio left Monday’s Week 1 opener with a loss and two timeouts still in his pocket. Denver couldn’t hold on to a one-point lead in the final minutes of the opener as the Titans marched down the field on an 83-yard drive that culminated in a 25-yard field goal hit by veteran Stephen Gostkowski, giving Tennessee the 16-14 lead (and eventual final score) with just 17 seconds remaining. 

That proved to be too little time on the clock for Drew Lock to march Denver’s offense from their own 25-yard line all the way down the field into field goal territory. That could have been different, however, if Fangio had elected to use his timeouts in the midst of Tennessee’s eventual game-winning drive to preserve clock. The only time Fangio actually deployed a timeout was just prior to the final play of the night: an incomplete pass by Lock. 

“It was two-fold there,” Fangio told reporters after the game when asked about not using a timeout on the Titans final drive, via The Denver Post. “One, their field goal kicker had obviously been having his problems so I didn’t want to extend the drive to where they could get closer. And we would have used a timeout but we got the running back out of bounds, and we would have used the second timeout, but they threw an incompletion.”

While Fangio is correct that Gostkowski was struggling mightily in this game (missed his first three field goals prior to the game-winner), there were still a number of opportunities for Fangio to use one of the three timeouts that he still had at his disposal, particularly after the two-minute warning and after Tennessee reached the red zone. 

With 1:33 on the clock, Titans running back Derrick Henry took a second-and-4 run to the Broncos 16. The clock was at the 1:28 mark at the time that play ended and Tennessee snapped the ball again with 49 seconds to go. 

“After Henry got that 13 yard play, I should’ve called timeout there,” Fangio later admitted to KOA ‘s “Logan & Lewis” program on Monday. “I missed that one.”

After that play, Henry rushed it again and Titans head coach Mike Vrabel called a timeout with 30 seconds to play before the two clock stoppages occurred that Fangio mentioned to reporters Sunday night. That instance alone — along with a few others in the Titans final drive — could have given Denver’s offense a puncher’s chance at setting up its own game-winning field goal try, but instead, begin the year 0-1. 

Of course, the Broncos have 15 more games on the deck to recover, but that initial loss does certainly sting out of the gate. 


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