Then, early in the fourth quarter, the outcome long decided, Denver's Steven Johnson charged in right past longsnapper Jon Dorenbos' right shoulder, untouched. Johnson blocked Donnie Jones' punt, then got the bounce to scoop and score from just 17 yards out.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly said he saw Johnson go through the A-gap, "but I don't know what the call was up front."
Dorenbos was not around to discuss the play afterward. Ditto special teams coordinator Dave Fipp, who had underlined the importance of getting back on track. Likewise unavailable were Henery, who missed his third field goal in the last three games, and Jones.
"Usually I'm blocked and accounted for," Johnson said. "I was just unblocked, so I was like, 'whoa,' went straight to the punter and didn't necessarily know what I was going to do or how I was going to block it. I just stuck an arm out and it happened."
Someone asked Holliday what he thought a TD return does to an opponent.
"I guess it's very deflating," he said. "They did such a good job of trying to keep us out of the end zone [in the first half], but my team did a good job of blocking, so we made it happen."
Chip Kelly mentioned drive-killing mistakes, most notably a Brent Celek third-down drop at the Broncos' 5, making the Eagles settle for a field goal following Denver's first touchdown, and an Evan Mathis holding penalty that negated a second-quarter completion to DeSean Jackson that would have taken the Eagles inside the Denver 25, trailing 21-13.
"I just dropped the ball," Celek said. "Sometimes you have plays like that in the season. It happened at a crucial time, at a bad time for us. I'm not happy about it. It was completely my fault."
Mathis and the o-line gave up more pressure than the Broncos' straight-up, non-tricky pass rush should have generated. Michael Vick also held the ball way too long again against press coverage, which is probably all the Eagles are going to see for a while.
"I had a drive-killer. I wish I had that one back," Mathis said. "I got beat really fast. The only thing in my mind was, 'I'm not letting this guy hit Mike no matter what,' so I just tackled him."
Chris Polk scored on his first NFL carry, a 4-yard run . . . Jeff Maehl scored his first NFL touchdown late in the game . . . Hard to know what to make of LeSean McCoy's absence during parts of the afternoon. The official explanation was that he had the wind knocked out of him. McCoy suffered an ankle injury against the Chiefs. "I couldn't breathe in the first half," said McCoy, who gained 73 yards on 16 carries. "I didn't adapt to the [altitude] until the second half" . . . The Eagles were without safety Patrick Chung (shoulder) as expected. Rookie Earl Wolff's first NFL start was not what he'd hoped for . . . The Broncos seemed untroubled by corner Champ Bailey taking another week to heal his ailing foot.