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Rosburg, Broncos try to move on from officiating in K.C.

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, right, holds the ball under pressure from Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones during the second half Sunday in Kansas City. (Ed Zurga/The Associated Press)
‘I know how the NFL office works,’ coach says

ENGLEWOOD – Jerry Rosburg doesn't want to get fined during his two-game stint as the Broncos' interim coach.

So he declined to criticize the officials for not flagging Chris Jones after he hit Russell Wilson in the head and then body-slammed him on a game-sealing fourth-down sack Sunday.

It was a textbook example of the type of hit on quarterbacks the NFL has tried diligently to get rid of in recent seasons.

“I know how the NFL office works when it comes to coaches criticizing officials,” Rosburg said Sunday after losing his head coaching debut 27-24 at Kansas City. “I thought that was a fine crew and there are a lot of good officials. This is a hard game to officiate.

“That does not mean I cannot have my disagreements. Unfortunate, perhaps. That is pretty harmless,” Rosburg added. “There was an unfortunate no-call during that game that I disagree with.”

And an arguably unnecessary flag that was thrown, too.

An offensive pass interference call on Courtland Sutton as he hauled in a 44-yard catch with the Broncos trying to extend a 17-13 lead ended up changing the tenor of the game.

“Unfortunate,” Rosburg said. “The word of the day. Highly unfortunate.”

Receiver Jerry Jeudy wasn't nearly as diplomatic.

“Yeah, that wasn’t pass interference,” Jeudy said. “They’re going to hear from the league on that later on during the week. … Everybody else knows that wasn’t a pass interference call. How do you get called for pass interference with two guys on you?”

Safety Bryan Cook initiated the contact and Sutton was flagged even though it didn't appear he had anything to do with Cook tumbling on the play that would have been a key third-down conversion at the Kansas City 40-yard line.

Instead, the Broncos were backed up to their 8 and facing third-and-19. After gaining 10 yards, they punted and Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs to their go-ahead touchdown. Kansas City didn't trail again.

What’s working

Safety Justin Simmons picked off Mahomes in the end zone, giving him a career-best six interceptions this season. That's tied with Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Seattle cornerback Tariq Woolen for the league lead. Also, Simmons' 27 interceptions since joining the NFL in 2016 is tied with Tennessee's Kevin Byard for most by a safety in that span.

What needs work

Denver's patchwork offensive line. Wilson was still under too much pressure way too often. But at least his linemen helped him to his feet after sacks a week after Wilson's backup, Brett Rypien, implored the O-linemen to give Wilson a hand. That request was met by left guard Dalton Risner, the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, shoving Rypien in the chest and then taunting him to say something else because he mistakenly thought Rypien was criticizing the O-line for allowing sacks.

Stock up

Wilson, for once. He ran for a pair of touchdowns for the third time in his career. He also did it against Buffalo in 2012 and New Orleans in 2019 while with the Seahawks.

Also, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. He was buried on the bench under former coach Nathaniel Hackett, who deactivated him for half the games this season. Okwuegbunam caught three passes for 44 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown.

Stock down

Rookie KR Montrell Washington, who was inactive Sunday with Rosburg calling the shots after Hackett had stuck with him throughout a substandard season.


RB Marlon Mack (hamstring) left in the first quarter and LG Dalton Risner (elbow) in the third. CB Damarri Mathis went into the concussion protocol in the second. LB Baron Browning (back) and DL D.J. Jones (knee) were inactive.

Key numbers

4,948 – Rushing yards by Wilson, who surpassed Randall Cunningham for third-most by an QB in NFL history after finishing with four carries for 27 yards Sunday. Wilson trails Michael Vick (6,109) and Cam Newton (5,628).

21 – Broncos on injured reserve, a league high, representing $63 million in salary.

Up next

The Broncos (4-12) host the playoff-bound Los Angeles Chargers (10-6) and will try to avoid becoming the first team in franchise history to lose 13 games in a season.

Denver Broncos interim head coach Jerry Rosburg watches from the sidelines during the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Kansas City, Missouri (Charlie Riedel/The Associated Press)