Another week, another embarrassing loss for the Denver Broncos. This week, the big loss comes in Denver’s inaugural trip to Las Vegas against the hated Raiders. The now 3-6 Broncos lost 37-12 to the now 6-3 Raiders. Let’s get to where things unraveled for Denver in this week’s post-game recap and review:
It wouldn’t be a real Broncos game if it didn’t start with a three-and-out on the first possession. In what has become a tradition, Denver had to punt after three quick, inefficient plays on the opening drive. If it weren’t for a penalty, another special teams lapse would have put the ball on Denver’s 23-yard line. Instead Derek Carr and Co. had to start on their own 38-yard line. It ultimately wouldn’t matter as the Raiders drove right down the field and Josh Jacobs rumbled into the endzone for an early 7-0 lead.
Denver would respond thanks to the most consistent Bronco this year, Brandon McManus. The 7th year kicker put Denver on the board with a 50-yard field goal. After a quick Raiders punt on the next possession, the Broncos had the ball again with a chance to add to their three points. Then Drew Lock threw his first interception of the game, this one was intended for KJ Hamler who was triple covered.
Luckily, the Raiders couldn’t capitalize on the turnover and traded punts with Denver. Early into the second quarter, Denver had possession yet again. This time they were able to drive into the red zone, but failed to score a touchdown. A 33-yard field goal from McManus made it a 6-7 game.
The Raiders responded with a field goal of their own on the following drive. Dylan Carlson capped off the 13-play, 81-yard drive with a 24-yard chip shot to make it a 10-6 game. On the Broncos final possession of the first half, they moved the ball well, but a holding call wiped out a Lock touchdown. On the next play, Lock tried to force the ball to Jerry Jeudy, but Heath came away with his second interception of the first half. The Broncos burned their opportunity and went into halftime with the Raiders leading.
With the game somehow still in reach, the Broncos needed a big second half. Vegas started with the ball, but the Denver defense was able to keep them out of the endzone once again. Another Carlson field goal, this time from 52-yards, made it a 13-6 game. Being down just a touchdown, the Broncos offense came back out for their first possession of the second half. They had similar results as their first drive and were forced into a three-and-out. This time Las Vegas took advantage. The Raiders chewed up over seven minutes on the drive, which ended in another Jacobs touchdown.
On the second play of the Broncos ensuing drive, Lock threw his third interception of the game. This time Carl Nassib plucked the ball out of the air on an ill-advised throw from Lock. Denver only ran five total plays in the third quarter gaining one yard. The Raiders scored another field goal after the interception to go up 23-6 early in the fourth quarter.
The two teams would trade punts before Denver’s fourth turnover of the game. This time it was a DaeSean Hamilton fumble. From Denver’s 7-yard line, the Raiders only needed one play to capitalize off the fumble. Former Bronco Devontae Booker would score his first touchdown of the game.
In a “too little, too late” scenario the Broncos did score a touchdown, their only one in the game, on the next possession. Hamilton would get some redemption, scoring the touchdown on a seven yard catch from Lock. A failed two-point conversion made it a 30-12 game. Booker would then score his second touchdown of the game, this time a 23-yard run, to make it 37-12. To put the icing on the cake, the Raiders picked off Lock one last time on the Broncos’ final possession.
In an embarrassing game, the Raiders recovered from a slow start to beat the Broncos 37-12 at Allegiant Stadium. The Broncos fall to 3-6 after their second consecutive loss, while the Raiders move to 6-3 with a Sunday Night matchup versus the Chiefs on deck.
There aren’t many silver linings in this game. As Coach Vic Fangio said, everyone’s fingerprints are on this disappointing loss. Without further ado, let’s jump into my ten instant takeaways from this loss to the hated Raiders.
Lock’s Worst Game:
No hiding from it. This was Lock’s worst game in his young career. All of the issues Lock has had in the past seemed amplified on Sunday. The second year QB was falling off his back foot, making late throws, only looking at his first read, and missing open receivers. All four of his interceptions were directly related to poor footwork, which isn’t new. Typically, there are at least some flashes from him that get me excited. Not so much versus the Raiders. His poor play is going to make many ponder what the Broncos should do at QB in 2021. I personally think that you still have to ride with Lock. He hasn’t even played a full 16 games yet and we know that the raw talent is there. These mistakes are the growing pains we were all expecting. My concern is the lack of improvement on those growing pains. It seems like we talk about the same shortcomings every week. Lock is going to feel a lot of pressure in these remaining weeks. It’s going to be very interesting to see how he deals with the adversity and if he can build some confidence moving forward.
We Made the Raiders Look Good:
The most frustrating part of the offense’s poor showing is that it made the hated Raiders look good. The Raiders have struggled getting to the quarterback all season, until they play the Broncos. The Raiders secondary has been exposed at times this season, but not against the Broncos. The Raiders missed tackles early and often, but the Broncos couldn’t capitalize. Raiders Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther deserves credit for mixing up coverages, blitzes, and looks. That being said, the Broncos didn’t help themselves at any point on Sunday. Don’t get me wrong, the Raiders outplayed Denver, but Vegas isn’t as good as they showed Sunday.
The Broncos have turnover problems. Not only do they fail to create turnovers, but they are struggling to prevent them. Denver leads the NFL in turnovers (21) and are ranked 31st in turnover margin (-12). That’s a recipe for disaster. This week, Denver lost the turnover battle 5-0. The Raiders turned those five turnovers into just 13 points, but likely would have scored more if it weren’t for the end of the half and game. Both sides of the ball need to place an emphasis on this moving forward.
Are The Broncos Ghosting Phillip Lindsay?:
Can someone explain to me why Phillip Lindsay only had four carries in this game? It makes absolutely no sense why he isn’t more involved in the offense. Honestly, it’s inexcusable. He is your most explosive player on offense. Lindsay only had two rushing yards In this game, while Melvin Gordon finished with 46 yards on 11 carries. The easiest way to help a struggling passing game is by running the football. This backfield duo can be special, but they, and especially Lindsay, need to be given a chance to make a difference. I hope to see an added emphasis on getting Lindsay touches and running the ball next week.
Bryce Callahan is the Lone Bright Spot:
In a game without many positives, it sure was nice having Bryce Callahan back. After missing last week with an injury, the 6th year CB made some incredible plays in coverage. He broke up a couple of passes and made some impressive open field tackles in run support. There were some ugly moments though. TE Darren Waller burned Callahan and had a sure-fire TD but dropped a perfect pass. Overall, Callahan was the difference maker for the Broncos in the first half and has been a big upgrade for this defense. Right now Callahan is playing at a Pro Bowl level and deserves more love.
Offensive Problems Remain Unchanged:
As Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Well, the Broncos offense is determined to prove Einstein wrong. The offensive problems remain the same from week to week. There doesn’t seem to be any adjustments or changes even though they struggled in the weeks prior. Once again, it was abandoning the run game early, unnecessary deep shots downfield, third down plays short of the marker, predictable play-calling, and more of the same that has stunted this offense for the last few years. At this point, you can’t pin it on any individual but the product as a whole. Between the coaches, quarterback, offensive line, and skill players there is plenty of blame to go around.
Broncos Were Dominated In The Trenches:
It didn’t matter if it was on offense or defense, the line looked like they were overpowered. The Raiders engulfed our defensive line as they finished with over 200 rushing yards. It was the second straight week the defense has given up over 200 rushing yards too. Not only were they killing us in the run game, but the pass rush was non-existent. Offensively, the Broncos couldn’t get anything going on the ground and Lock was pressured all game long. I understand that each unit has a long injury list, but there was no fight on either side of the ball. It all starts at the line of scrimmage and the Raiders beat us on a consistent basis Sunday.
When Will Tom McMahon Be Fired?:
This seems inevitable at this point. Once again our special teams was a disaster. If it weren’t for a couple of penalties, the Raiders would have had multiple long returns, one of which for a touchdown. It seemed like the Raiders had big returns on all but one play when Josh Watson made a great tackle. The Broncos were running into each other on punts, not filling lanes, and not tackling well all day. This trend has been going on for far too long. Not to mention, the Broncos had to start three of their first four drives inside of their own 10-yard line because of poor special teams play. As Fangio said, “we’re not playing well enough in the special teams area as a whole.”
Does This Officially Crush Any Playoff Hopes?:
The Broncos are now 3-6 with a dark storm cloud over their heads. I though the Raiders game was a must win to keep playoff hopes. With an expanded playoff format, this seemed like the season for the Broncos to make the cut. Now, Denver’s going to need a lot of help if they want to make the playoffs for the first time since Super Bowl 50. They’re currently 11th in the AFC. I do still think that a 9-7 record will keep you in the hunt, but that would mean the Broncos can only afford one more loss in 2020. With the Chiefs, Saints, and Bills still on the schedule it seems like the Broncos will be jockeying for a better draft pick than playoff seed once again.
Tough Road Ahead:
As I alluded to, things don’t get any easier for Denver. Next week they face off against Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins in Denver. Miami has won their last five games and is pushing the Bills in the AFC East. This isn’t the same Dolphins team that has been the laughingstock of the NFL for years. This team is young, fast, and dangerous. The Broncos are going to have their hands full once again. It also sounds like Lock is questionable for this contest after injuring his ribs and core in Las Vegas. Every game needs to be played like a playoff game for these Broncos moving forward if they still want a chance to make the postseason.
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