After Sunday's rather homely 30-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, that's probably a good thing. It wasn't any of Bridgewater's passes, scrambles or checkdowns that were under the microscope following a game that dropped the Broncos to 5-5. It was Bridgewater's subpar tackle attempt as Eagles' cornerback Darius Slay ran past him during an 83-yard fumble return for a touchdown on the last play of the third quarter -- a play that seemed to smother any Broncos comeback attempt.
Bridgewater's lackluster attempt will be the lasting image for the .500 Broncos as they head into the bye. The return turned a seven-point Eagles lead into a momentum-crushing play.
"I'm just thinking force the ball back inside where one of our guys can make the tackle," Bridgewater said, at first, when asked about the play.
"Obviously, it was a big play," said Broncos coach Vic Fangio. "... It was huge."
On fourth-and-1 from the Eagles' 23-yard line, Broncos running back Melvin Gordon slammed into the pile for what appeared to be a first down by the slimmest of margins. However, Eagles linebacker Davion Taylor pulled the ball free before Gordon hit the ground and Slay scooped it up at the Eagles' 17-yard line.
"I don't know quite what happened ... thought I had it good," Gordon said. "... I got crushed on that play."
After Slay initially bobbled the ball, he scooped it up a second time and circled back all the way to the Eagles' 11-yard line. Slay then spun again and started up the left sideline.
The Broncos' efforts were impeded -- somewhat -- by whom they had on the field at the time. They were in a three-tight-end set for the short-yardage play with everyone condensed near the ball at the snap. Once Slay scooped up the ball, he was likely the fastest player on the field with plenty of open space.
Broncos tight end Eric Saubert couldn't quite reel in Slay to bring him down at about the Eagles' 28-yard line. As Slay passed the Eagles' 40-yard line with Gordon in pursuit, Bridgewater was standing between Slay and the Eagles' sideline. Slay passed, in full stride, in front of Bridgewater, who barely put out his arm.
Asked a second time after the game about not trying to slow down Slay, Bridgewater said:
"No, like I said, I tried to force the ball back. You sit in team meetings and you watch Coach put up plays from throughout the league and two-minute situations and different things, our defense has guys running toward the sideline, they always say [the] sideline is your friend, so try to force the ball back. That's all I'm trying to do right there."
Fangio was asked what he saw on the play, which was across the field from the Broncos' sideline.
"I didn't see it; it was on the other sideline," Fangio said. "... [They] just asked me about it on the radio. I didn't see it, so I can't really comment on it right now."