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Broncos’ field goal decision more of a mindboggler than ever

McManus growing tired of not getting chances
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus (8) watches his field goal split the uprights during the first half of a game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Denver.

ENGLEWOOD – The Denver Broncos’ shunning of a long field-goal attempt last weekend is still being debated, and not just by flustered fans and perplexed radio hosts.

Kicker Brandon McManus chimed in on social media Thursday to dispute his special teams coach’s assertion that he had kicked poorly in pregame warmups at Atlanta.

That’s the reason Tom McMahon gave for discouraging the 58-yard attempt by McManus, who has made five of six attempts from 50-plus yards this season.

Coach Vic Fangio said after the Broncos’ 34-27 loss Sunday that he wanted to send his kicker out to attempt the long field goal in the first quarter, but that McMahon talked him out of it during a timeout.

Instead, the Broncos punted from the Falcons 41 while trailing 3-0.

“I had a strong urge to try that. I believe it would have been a 58 or 59-yarder,” Fangio said. “Tom talked me out of it and I had a strong enough urge that I wanted to think about it some more to the point where I did call a timeout.”

McMahon was asked to explain his advice during a Zoom call with reporters Thursday, and his responses, followed by McManus’ reaction, piled more intrigue onto the hotly debated decision.

“Well, the big thing — what I do is I give my advice to Vic on where Brandon is during pregame with distance, and Coach makes that decision from there,” McMahon said. “My biggest job is when I see a situation like that distance at the 42-yard line, 39-yard line, 44-yard line, where I have to get involved, I give him my advice. In that case, he thought about it and made the decision to punt the ball.”

McMahon said the roof being open at Mercedes-Benz Stadium had nothing to do with the call to send punter Sam Martin onto the field instead of McManus.

“No, I don’t think the wind had any effect on any of the balls,” McMahon said. “The kickoffs, the punts, they bombed them and we bombed them. It was a matter of what I saw pregame, to be honest with you. I went off that. From that, I gave him the advice that I gave him.”

McMahon went on to say McManus had a poor pregame at New England last month only to go 6-for-6 on field goals, including conversions from 52 and 54 yards in Denver’s 18-12 victory, a performance that earned him AFC special teams Player of the Week honors.

“I think it’s different every day. The pregame is different with every place you go. We went to New England, and I’ll be up front with you, he missed five field goals in pregame, but the ball was flying so far,” McMahon said.

“It’s just different with how the ball and trajectory is. I give advice off that and game situations and quarter. First quarter, fourth quarter might be different, third quarter might be different, so on and so forth.”

A short time later, McManus tweeted, “Must have been a different pregame. Jets game and New England I was horrible. Atlanta I was (fire emoji).”

He then added the hashtag “dontsilencetheplayers”

In the thread of comments that followed, McManus added, “Situationally it can make sense not to kick. I can agree with that. But not because of my warmup”

McManus, who signed a four-year, $17.2 million extension in September, has nailed 16 of 17 field-goal attempts in 2020 with his only miss a 58-yarder at Pittsburgh in Week 2 that went wide right. He’s also made 16 of 17 extra points.

The Broncos (3-5) visit Las Vegas (5-3) Sunday.

NOTES: D-line coach Bill Kollar returned to practice Thursday after missing a day while in COVID-19 protocol for exposure to an infected individual. Kollar never tested positive for the virus. He’s now the fourth assistant coach to enter COVID-19 protocols. The only one still out is D-coordinator Ed Donatell, who’s been in quarantine since Nov. 1. ... RT Jake Rodgers (shoulder) missed practice, and Fangio said Calvin Anderson could get his first career start Sunday.