Vance Joseph: Case Keenum 'has to make more plays'

The Denver Broncos' stunning defeat to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14 proved to be a game of missed opportunities.

The first blown chance is obvious, as the loss prevented a playoff-hopeful Denver (6-7) from gaining ground in the chase for a wild-card spot. The second area surrounded quarterback Case Keenum's inability to connect deep against the 49ers in a game the Broncos absolutely needed.

After reviewing the film of the game, Broncos head coach Vance Joseph wants more out of his quarterback with the team still mathematically alive for a playoff berth.

"(Keenum) was a little cautious with the ball," Joseph said Monday, via Ryan O'Halloran of The Denver Post. "The bottom line, we have three weeks left to play. He has to make more plays."

On the game, Keenum connected on 24 of 42 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.4 yards per completion, and extended his streak of games without an interception to five.

The flip side, however, surrounds the Broncos' signal-caller only having five touchdowns through the air and he failed to top 200 yards passing three times in that span, including Week 13.

"In my opinion, being safe with the ball sometimes allows you to have great numbers in that category (turnovers), but as far as making plays down the field, you can't be safe doing that," Joseph said. "He's got to take more chances down the middle of the field and he will tell you that."

Still, the Broncos might very well look back at Week 13 should the team be eliminated from postseason consideration in the coming weeks.

Denver set up nicely in the final four matchups, as they faced a three-game stretch against opponents with sub-.500 records (49ers, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders) before the season-finale against the Los Angeles Chargers.

"Obviously, we have to win out," Joseph said. "It's a must-win game on Saturday. It's going to be a must-win game for the next three weeks. We understand that ... We haven't talked about it, but it's been that way the last month-and-a-half."

Given the current playoff picture in the AFC, the Broncos likely need to go 3-0 the rest of the way, and then hope for outside help to gain ground.

But if Keenum heeds the words of his head coach, the quarterback will change gears from game-management mode to airing it out with hopes of putting the Broncos in better position to secure much-needed wins.