Loser won't be the worst name Broncos safety Rahim Moore will be called after committing the biggest orange-and-blue blunder in team history.
"I'm taking the blame for it. Hey, I lost the game for us. It is what it is," Moore said Saturday evening, his voice cracking after Denver was eliminated from the NFL playoffs with a shocking 38-35 double-overtime loss to Baltimore.
In a Denver locker room where grown men fought back tears and quarterback Peyton Manning's storybook finish was shattered before the final chapter could begin, Broncos coach John Fox had to find some way to say goodbye. Trouble is, mere words never speak louder than the scoreboard.
So Fox stood before his disconsolate players and sent a direct, tough love message straight from the heart: "Don't let this defeat define you."
Since the Broncos first pulled on uniforms in 1960, nobody has ever made a worse error than Moore. In an instant, what appeared to be a safe 35-28 Denver lead and a date with destiny turned into nightmare that will make coaches, players and fans afraid to close their eyes from now until the Super Bowl.
But this also must be stressed: In the history of this proud franchise, no player has ever stood taller as a man than Moore, as he took full responsibility for the mistake.
"There's never an 'I' in win. But there's an 'I' in lose," Moore said. "Because when you lose, you've got to look at yourself."
Moore is doomed to be buried under 5,280 feet of pain, after stumbling under a desperation, 70-yard touchdown pass by Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones during the final minute of regulation. This defeat was more bitter than the 10 degrees showing on the thermometer when Moore turned a prevent defense into a slow-motion nightmare that allowed the Ravens to tie the game with 31 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
This loss will leave a scar as deep and ugly as the time Jacksonville shocked quarterback John Elway and his Denver teammates so badly with a 30-27 upset in January 1997 that you could hear old Mile High Stadium groan.
"This loss was worse," insisted Broncos alum Alfred Williams, a defensive lineman on the Denver team upset by the Jaguars 16 years ago.
As Flacco threw a prayer high and deep into the 10-degree air, Williams sat wearing a throwback Karl Mecklenburg jersey in the same stadium with 76,732 spectators and felt his stomach drop as Moore futilely leapt at the pass with the same hopelessly lost look as a Little League outfielder watching a ball sail over his head.
"I think I got a little too happy," said Moore, admitting he was going for the interception that would've made him a hero, rather than playing sound defensive technique. "I misjudged it, man."
It was an unforgivable mistake by anybody paid good money to play safety in the NFL. It will cause too many sleepless nights to count. It might have cost the 36-year-old Manning his last, best chance at another Super Bowl ring. It was a party balloon Moore popped.
"You had this game won," Williams said. "You work on that play Baltimore scored a touchdown 100 times in practice. This was embarrassing."
There will be 1,000 fingers pointed in defeat.
The officials made so many head-shaking bad calls that S, M and H keys were broken throughout the Broncos Twitterverse. Fox's play calling at the end of regulation was so painfully conservative that you wondered if he was afraid to win. Manning threw a mindless interception that set up the 47-yard, game-winning field goal by Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker.
But only Moore will be in the crosshairs of blame. Goat will not be the worst four-letter word he is called.
"The worst thing about it is," Moore said, staring directly in my eyes, "is we're going home. We're going home off a play I could've made, and I play I'm here to make. Coach Fox and the staff and everybody's around me to make that play. And I didn't make it."
After winning 11 games to close the regular season, after earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC, it all came crashing down with a single blunder.
I had to know. Does Moore knock the pass down nine times out of 10? And what percentage of the time does he at least make a tackle that prevents a touchdown and preserves a seven-point Denver lead? Ninety-nine times out of 100?
"Yeah, that's what I do. I was blessed with those skills. And I didn't use what I was blessed with today, man," Moore said. "At the end of the day, it was a great season. I'm sorry it ended this way. But, next year, it won't."
The hardest part for Moore? It will take at least 365 days to make good on that promise.