The Denver Broncos defense had its first major test of the 2016 regular season with the NFL’s best offense through four games coming to town in the Atlanta Falcons. With Trevor Siemian inactive, the young rookie Paxton Lynch would get his first start of his career.
The first quarter would be dominated by the Falcons who took the opening kickoff and marched right down the field on the Broncos defense for an opening touchdown. Every single one of Matt Ryan’s completions on that drive went to running backs or tight ends, which has been an area of concern from the Broncos defense in coverage.
Lynch’s debut resulted in a punt after moving the Broncos out near midfield.
The Falcons offense chewed up the underneath passes as Todd Davis seemed to get wrecked in coverage over and over again. An offensive pass interference call on Julio Jones set the Broncos up with a chance to finally stop the Falcons short.
However, down 10-0 at home in the first quarter, the Broncos needed an offensive spark to get some momentum back. They would not get it in the first quarter as they went three and out on their second drive, giving the Falcons offense another chance to put more points on the board.
Instead, the Broncos defense woke from their slumber and the Falcons would punt from 4th and 31. After a nice punt return from Jordan Norwood, Paxton Lynch would hit Emmanuel Sanders for an intermediate pass into Falcons territory to end the first quarter.
Falcons 10, Broncos 0.
The Broncos extended their only drive into Falcons territory with a fourth down conversion from Andy Janovich. The drive would stall when Lynch would overthrow an open Sanders in the end zone. Brandon McManus would get the Broncos on the board.
Falcons 10, Broncos 3.
Throughout the second quarter, it would be a defensive battle between both teams. However, late in the half the Falcons got a drive going that started from inside their own 10 yard line. Using the run game, they would gash the Broncos all the way down inside the red zone.
The defense finally stiffened, but the damage was done as the Broncos go down two scores before halftime.
Falcons 13, Broncos 3.
With just under two minutes to go, the Broncos had a chance to get some points on the board before halftime. Instead, they choked and punted.
At least the Broncos got the ball to start the second half and after a big 26 yard pass to Sanders to open up the drive, it would promptly fall apart resulting in a Broncos punt.
Von Miller would wreck the Falcons next drive with a big third down sack. Unfortunately, the Broncos would find themselves on the half yard line to start their next drive.
A rookie QB will start at his own one-yard line with Ty Sambrailo at tackle. pic.twitter.com/FzCwDuUpC4— Jon Heath (@JonHeathNFL) October 9, 2016
From there, Lynch would immediately throw an interception at the Broncos 40 yard line.
The Falcons would drive into field goal range, before Ryan hit Coleman down the seam for the touchdown pass. Marshall was beaten badly on the play.
Falcons 20, Broncos 3.
On the Broncos next drive, they would repeated try to overcome Ty Sambrailo’s terrible play. They succeeded once after Lynch was strip sacked, when the Broncos would convert a fourth and inches play after gaining 18 yards to recover from that foopaw.
Then a holding call on Sambrailo on the very next series would prove too much to overcome and the Broncos would need to punt.
Bench Ty Sambrailo— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) October 9, 2016
Broncos Country agreed.
The Falcons on third and 19 on their next drive would have Sanu stripped by T.J. Ward to give the Broncos a big momentum swing to start the fourth quarter.
The Broncos take advantage of the turnover, quickly moving the ball inside the Falcons 30 yard line. However, Lynch would be sacked after Michael Schofield (who replaced Ty Sambrailo at right tackle) was beaten badly on the next play.
Vic Beasley has 4 sacks against Broncos today. Last player with at least 4 sacks in a game? Khalil Mack in Week 14 last year vs...Broncos.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 9, 2016
On second and 22, Lynch would hit Anderson over the middle for a short seven yard gain. On third and 15, Anderson dropped an easy pitch and catch to force a field goal attempt from McManus.
Falcons 20, Broncos 6.
The Falcons immediately exploit the Broncos inability to cover running backs in the passing game with a fifty yard pass to Coleman to open up their next drive. The Broncos defense stiffened to force a field goal from the Falcons.
Falcons 23, Broncos 6.
The Broncos offense finally got moving late in the fourth quarter against the Falcons prevent defense. Lynch making some good throws against some easy to read defense. With just under four minutes to go, the Broncos got down inside the red zone with a nifty catch and run from Norwood.
Catches by Sanders and Anderson setup a first and goal. After taking another sack for holding onto the ball too long, Lynch would hit Anderson on a short pass down to the four yard line.
Lynch would hit Demaryius Thomas on the next play who would reach the ball across the plane for a touchdown.
Falcons 23, Broncos 13.
A penalty wiped out an onside kick recovery, ending all hope the Broncos would have. The Falcons would run the clock down to the two minute warning, turning the ball over on downs trying to rush for the first down.
Lynch would pick up some yards in garbage time and got the field goal to close the gap to a touchdown.
Falcons 23, Broncos 16.
The onside kick failed. Falcons win.