The Denver Broncos proved last week’s furious and improbable comeback was an aberration. They came out flat and inconsistent just like they were through most of the game last week, except there would be no comeback.
Ten games into his professional career and the jury remains out on Drew Lock. He has shown glimpses, but he has also shown a very low floor. That low floor is painful to watch at times. Losing 34-27 on the road to the previously 2-6 Atlanta Falcons was also painful to watch. Those two late touchdowns from the Broncos made things look a lot closer than they were and maybe there is a recipe for success there for Lock if Offensive Coordinator Pat Shumur can identify and exploit it. So far, he hasn’t.
With eight games left, the Broncos will need to figure out what they have in Lock so they can go into the 2021 offseason with a solid plan to make this a better football team.
The first quarter for the Broncos didn’t go as planned on defense. While they held the Falcons to a field goal on their first drive, the third down defense has been lacking as the Falcons had converted all but one third down attempt in that first quarter.
That included a third and 11 that Matt Ryan converted into a 51-yard touchdown. Olamide Zaccheaus burned Devontae Harris deep on the play to put the Falcons up by 10 early.
Guess we know why Davontae Harris hasn't played a defensive snap 'til today. pic.twitter.com/3uzuqw8C2W— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 8, 2020
The Broncos would head into the second quarter down 10-0 thanks to that defensive breakdown.
Offensive and defensive woes continued for the Broncos in the second quarter. Devontae Harris was ultimately benched late in the second quarter as Matt Ryan was a perfect 7-7 throwing his way. One of those included a defensive pass interference.
Turns out Davontae is no De'Vante pic.twitter.com/LuAvhznQRs— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 8, 2020
Offensively, Drew Lock was back to staring down his first read. On many plays, you could see the Falcons safety immediately sprint at the snap to where ever Lock was looking and more often than not the ball was going there to be broken up by the safety.
Even worse, Pat Shurmur’s love of running on second and long produced the biggest head scratcher of the game. With 40 seconds left in the half and only one time out, Shurmur decided to run the ball on second and long in Falcons territory. The one yard gain forced Denver to use their final timeout and Lock’s incompletion on third down forced the punt.
Denver would go into halftime down 20-3 and searching for answers.
Denver simply had no answer for Ryan and the Falcons offense. While they only scored once in the third quarter, the Falcons still increased their lead. Their touchdown would come on a 21 yard pass to Julio Jones who absolutely destroyed Michael Ojemudia with his route running.
JULIO IS TOO GOOD pic.twitter.com/cPrFsCub2A— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) November 8, 2020
The Broncos did kick a field goal in the quarter, but they didn’t quite get momentum until really late in the third quarter. They ended driving into Falcons territory with a couple of nice receptions by Jerry Jeudy.
Down 27-6, the Broncos were on the ropes with just 15 minutes to play.
The Broncos offense finally got on the board early in the fourth quarter capping the drive that started in the third quarter on a 20 yard strike from Lock to Jerry Jeudy for cut the lead to 27-13.
Still not worried about Jerry Jeudy. pic.twitter.com/xtUGFaLh13— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 8, 2020
Needing a big stop, the Broncos defense quickly found themselves on the verge of allowing the Falcons into field goal range at the Broncos 39 yard line. DeMarcus Walker would sack Ryan back to the 45-yard line. On third and 15, Vic Fangio brought the heat and forced the Falcons to punt.
In what was the biggest head scratcher of a throw, Drew Lock would be picked on his very next pass to set the Falcons up with an easy path to put the game away. Todd Gurley would punch it in for a game-clinching touchdown a few plays later. The Broncos would add a couple of touchdowns late, but it wouldn’t change the outcome. It just turned a blowout loss into a one score loss. Denver is 3-5 either way.
Grade the Broncos overall performance against the Falcons.
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