ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Denver Broncos' sideline actually showed a little bit of life when kicker Brandon McManus hit a 45-yard field goal to cut the Buffalo Bills' lead to 13-3 midway through the third quarter on Sunday.
The Broncos had a sliver, be it ever so small, of momentum to cling to.
But from then on, the offense went into full-blown, almost historical hibernation on a cold, wind-swept day in western New York. The Broncos did not come close to scoring another point during the final 22 minutes of a 20-3 loss.
Their first down total during that final stretch?
Zero. As in nada, zip, goose egg.
"They handled their business and we didn't," said Denver running back Phillip Lindsay.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio offered his explanation.
"Early on it was kind of OK, considering the conditions and the defense we were going against," Fangio said. "At some point there, we stopped moving it totally, and they kind of smothered us; so it was a problem, obviously, and one we have to get rectified somehow."
Yes, the Broncos' final five possessions on Sunday -- from the time McManus made the 3-pointer until quarterback Brandon Allen threw an incompletion with 7:15 to play -- ended in three-and-outs. Those last five possessions amounted to a total of 15 plays for a combined 2 net yards -- or an average of roughly 4.8 inches per play.
If that's a fish, it gets thrown back.
Two of the drives resulted in negative yardage. And among those 15 plays were seven incompletions from Allen, a dropped pass, two sacks and two of Denver's rushing attempts that went for 2 or fewer yards. There might not be enough fingers for the Broncos to put their finger on all those problems.
"We got to score touchdowns ... we got to score touchdowns," Lindsay said. " ... We've got to execute when it's time to execute."
Allen, who was making his third career start since -- all since Joe Flacco went to injured reserve with a herniated disc in his neck -- finished 10-of-25 for 82 yards with an interception to go with four sacks.
The Bills' defense, which came into the day No. 3 in the league in both scoring and total defense, pounded Allen repeatedly and controlled the line of scrimmage. The biggest hit Allen took came on an 18-yard catch-and-run play to Andrew Beck with just over a minute left in the first quarter. Allen's head slammed to the turf after he was driven to the ground following the throw.
Before the hit, and including the play, he was 3-of-4 passing for 48 yards. Afterward, he was 7-of-21 for 21 yards, which included an interception and the four sacks.
Allen said after the game he was not affected following that hit, but he admitted, "You get your bell rung a little bit and you just keep going."
"Obviously, we had a tough day on offense, and as a quarterback, it's going to look tough for you too," Fangio said. "He was under some duress, and I think the wind affected the throwing a little bit, and it wasn't good enough."
Over their final five possessions, the Broncos tried a bit of everything in terms of personnel groupings. Allen attempted passes to six different players during those 15 plays. Meanwhile, leading receiver Courtland Sutton had just one catch, none after the first quarter. Overall, the Broncos' 134 total yards was a season low in a season full of offensive struggles; it represented the eighth-lowest total in franchise history and the lowest in a game since 1992.
The Broncos' best, and almost only, chance at a touchdown came with the Bills leading 6-0 in the second quarter. The Broncos, after an interception by safety Justin Simmons, had moved to the Buffalo 25-yard line, where they had a second-and-9.
Allen tried to hit Sutton inside the Bills' 10-yard line, but Sutton stopped on the route and Allen threw the ball as if Sutton was going to keep running toward the middle of the field. Tre'Davious White grabbed the easy interception, and the Broncos' never made it to the Bills' 25-yard line the rest of the day.
"We were sluggish offensively, we didn't execute very well ... and when we do get a chance, I make the poor decision on a pick," Allen said. "When you're trying to find completions out there, it's tough, and I obviously didn't do a very good job of it."