After an impressive season opening win against the Seattle Seahawks, the Denver Broncos struggled to get things going offensively early on. It was an up-and-down game, with little hope existing until the final moments. But sometimes, all you have to do is believe, right?
In prototypical Oakland Raiders dysfunctional fashion, they crumbled in the fourth quarter, resulting in a 20-19 comeback victory for our beloved franchise. Without further adieu, here are five things we learned from the Broncos’ miraculous comeback victory.
1. The Broncos’ offensive start was dreadful, but they came together when it mattered most
A few words come to mind when attempting to describe the Broncos’ offensive effort against the Raiders in the first half, but I’ll refrain from expletives and just symbolize it as this — dreadful.
Outside of Phillip Lindsay’s 53-yard run in the first half and quality pass protection, there was little positive about what the offense did. They accomplished little-to-nothing on first downs and struggled immensely on third downs. When that happens, nothing good usually happens. It was an absolute disaster and a far cry from what we witnessed last week against the Seahawks. The offense gained just 114 yards and two first downs the entire first half — but their fortunes changed in the final two quarters.
After some key adjustments by Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave, the Broncos’ offense performed much better in the second half. They finished the game with 385 total yards and 20 first downs and put together scoring drives when it mattered most. I do have to note that one major disappointment that was constant throughout the game was Demaryius Thomas, who dropped far too many passes for a veteran of his caliber and presence.
2. Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay continue to impress
The thunder and lightning duo of of Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay were a major reason why the Broncos were able to win on opening day, and their success continued into this afternoon’s game against the Raiders.
Lindsay was the hot hand for most of the game and had himself another one hundred all-purpose yard effort, but Freeman’s presence was felt in the second half where he racked up a touchdown and had a couple of first down conversions. While Freeman might be listed as the number one tailback on the Broncos’ depth chart, there is no doubt that the undrafted rookie from the University of Colorado has been the better performer and more versatile weapon to start the season.
3. The Broncos’ depth at corner is a significant problem and so are the coverage’s Joe Woods was calling
This was my biggest concern on the defensive side of the ball to begin the season, and that worry came to fruition today in the win against the Raiders. Traimane Brock and Adam Jones struggled in coverage, both giving up big plays through the air on drives that resulted in points for Oakland. Even Bradley Roby and Chris Harris Jr. had their own issues, and the latter reportedly voiced his frustration with the play calls at the start of the fourth quarter.
Arians is right, the #Broncos DBs are playing so far off it's making it impossible to get pressure.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 16, 2018
The most frustrating thing to witness all game long was Joe Woods’ continuously having his corners in off-man coverage. There was a reason why Derek Carr was able to carve up Denver’s secondary with the short passing game. When you have all that room to work with, hitting receivers on three-step drops is just too easy — just like stealing candy from a baby. Hopefully Woods can take a good hard look at the tape and realize his mistakes and correct them for future games down the road.
4. Today’s referees clearly don’t understand what a catch is
There were a handful of instances where catches were overturned in today’s game. You’d think with the rule changes, there would be a bit more consistency in that regard — but apparently not. I’m not sure any of the overturns were the correct call and neither were the analysts calling the game (and experts in New York) which is extremely worrisome.
Are these referees closet Raider fans? WTF was that call?— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) September 16, 2018
Hell, maybe I just don’t know what a catch is! So if anyone can help me out in the comments section, by all means do. Nevertheless, without question, The Word Call of the Game Award goes to the denying of Courtland Sutton’s miraculous touchdown grab near the end of the third quarter. I know that was a catch and I think everyone watching knew it was too. Missed calls like that are most definitely game-changers (and they missed more than just those calls) and it surely had an adverse impact on the Broncos in today’s affair against the Raiders.
5. An ugly win is always better than a loss
It wasn’t pretty by any means, but the Broncos showed a lot of heart with their comeback victory today. Without question, it’s a Hell of a lot better to start the season off 2-0 than 1-1. Let’s hope they can correct some of the major issues we witnessed today and head into next week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens at full steam and better prepared so they can start off their 2018 campaign 3-0.
So Broncos Country, what were your five big observations from today’s game? Sound off in the comments section and make your voice heard!