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Broncos 3rd & long: Bills come due

The Denver Broncos did well in key situations on defense, but lost anyway.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The were many reasons why the Broncos lost on Sunday. Neither 3rd & long defense nor first down run defense were factors in the loss. Both were silver linings.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Stopping the run on first down

As we have done in the first two games, we did so in this game. We stuffed the run on first down. The Bills ran the ball 13 times on first down for 27 yards (2.08 ypc). The Bills had 24 first down plays (excluding kneeldowns). Of those 13 runs, two ended in TFLs (both 4 yards behind the LOS) and one in a stop for no gain. Their longest run on first down was 9 yards (Mike Tolbert in the second quarter). So our D was quite effective at stopping the run on first down. For the season we have held opponents to 90 rushing yards on 31 first down carries (2.90 ypc) with 4 TFLs and 3 stops for no gain.

Unfortunately we were equally as ineffective at stopping the pass on first down. Tyrod Taylor was 10 for 10 throwing the ball on first down for 82 yards and a TD. We did sack him once on a first down pass, but three of those passes resulted in a first down (31 yard catch by Nick O’Leary and 15 and 10 yard catches by LeSean McCoy) and one resulted in a TD (6-yd catch by Charles Clay). The last time a QB completed every first down pass against us was before 1998, if it has ever happened before. Tom Brady hasn’t done that against us. Philip Rivers has never done that against us.

For the game Taylor was 20 of 26 - 77% completion. Going back to the 1998 season, there have only been 22 instances of opposing starting QBs (leaving out the guys who came in for garbage time relief passing a blowout) completing 75% or more of their passes against the Broncos. The Broncos are 4-18 in those games. The last time we won a game where we allowed that high of a completion percentage was 2008 - when we beat the Bucs with Jeff Garcia completing 13 of 17 passes against us for 93 yards.

Overall the run defense was good for the game holding the Bills to 75 yards on 33 carries (2.27 pc). For the season we have the best run defense in the league - allowing 2.59 ypc after three games (179 yards on 69 carries). The Seahawks (who who had the best ypc allowed last season) are currently allowing a league worst 5.34 ypc.

Performance on 3rd & Long

We held the Bills to 1 of 7 on 3rd and long with their lone conversion coming in the second quarter.

Quarter Time Down ToGo Location Detail Result
1 11:44 3 17 BUF 35 Tyrod Taylor pass complete short left to LeSean McCoy for 7 yards (tackle by Justin Simmons) catch but short
2 9:10 3 9 BUF 26 Tyrod Taylor pass complete short left to LeSean McCoy for 12 yards (tackle by Derek Wolfe) conversion by catch
2 3:36 3 17 DEN 39 Tyrod Taylor pass complete short left to Charles Clay for 8 yards (tackle by Von Miller) catch but short
3 13:29 3 19 BUF 13 Mike Tolbert left guard for 10 yards (tackle by Brandon Marshall and Justin Simmons) run but short
3 4:05 3 18 DEN 40 Tyrod Taylor sacked by Shelby Harris for -5 yards sack
4 14:27 3 16 DEN 37 Tyrod Taylor left end for 3 yards (tackle by Chris Harris) scramble - short
4 3:26 3 12 DEN 12 Tyrod Taylor left end for 3 yards (tackle by Justin Simmons) scramble - short

We got one sack on 3rd and long - Shelby Harris’ sack in the 3rd quarter. For the season we have only allowed 3 conversions on 17 3rd and long situations (17.6%). After next game I’ll see how our D compares to the rest of the league.

For the game we held them to 7 of 17 on 3rd down conversions (I count the penalty conversions). For the season we are allowing conversion on 31.8% of 3rd downs (again including penalty conversions) - 14 of 44.

Moving forward

Two teams went into week three riding high and were humbled - Denver and Jokeland. I hope that our D responds with a high level performance against the Faiders. I also hope that our offense follows what Washington did and shreds the Faider D. I hope that Menelik Watson gives his best performance against his old team. If he doesn’t we could be in for another week of Faider fans telling us just how good Khalil Mack is.