Denver avoided disaster late with a defensive stand near midfield with less than two minutes to go to give the Broncos offense the ball back. That would end a late charge by the Panthers who scored 17 fourth quarter points to make it a much closer game.
The Broncos moved to 5-8 on the season, while the Panthers fell to 4-9.
The Broncos defense came out to play in the first quarter. They kept the Panthers out of scoring range and were putting the pressure on Teddy Bridgewater early and often. However, the offense didn’t do much early. It was the special teams unit that lit things up in the first quarter.
Diontae Spencer broke loose on this 83-yard punt return for a touchdown in the game’s first score.
Special teams also cost the Broncos a point when Brandon McManus missed a rare extra point kick. The Broncos still took a 6-0 lead into the second quarter.
Defensively, the Broncos continued to dominate. Unfortunately, Drew Lock coughed up the football on a sack and the Panthers returned it all the way down to the Denver five yard line.
Phil Snow sent heat at the right side, get home, Lock gives it up, and the Broncos have their 29th turnover this season. pic.twitter.com/YQeNQXxVPZ— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 13, 2020
That would result in a Panthers 7-6 lead.
Lock would bounce back to finish the half 12/16 for 85 yards and a touchdown. He would end the second quarter leading the Broncos down the field. His biggest play of the game was this 31-yard toss to Jerry Jeudy who ran a terrific route to get wide open.
Lock would then cap the drive with less than two minutes to go in the half with a pass to Nick Vannett for the touchdown and the 13-7 halftime lead.
Denver dominated the third quarter.
On their first second half possession, they marched right down the field. Drew Lock then found KJ Hamler wide open deep for this 37-yard touchdown.
Lock holds up to heat coming off the left side as K.J. Hamler flies by Rasul Douglas! pic.twitter.com/ZbKkFQNkvV— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 13, 2020
They would take as 19-7 lead after Brandon McManus missed his second extra point of the day.
After the Panthers added a field goal, Lock would continue to have a very efficient day leading the Broncos back down the field for another score. The drive was mostly due to two huge plays. The first was a pass to a wide open Tim Patrick for 33-yards.
Drew Lock finds Tim Patrick for a big play, and Pat Shurmur couldn't have drawn it up any better. pic.twitter.com/zsuks9JvV7— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 13, 2020
Then a screen pass to Troy Fumgalli went for 30 yards down to the Panthers two yard line where Lock would cap the drive off with a touchdown pass to Patrick to put Denver up 25-10 after a failed two-point try.
Early on in the fourth quarter, Bridgewater would cap a long drive down the field with a quarterback draw for a touchdown to cut the Broncos lead to 25-17.
The Broncos next drive stalled after an off series of events on a third and one. First, the Broncos went shotgun and with Lock backpeddling threw the ball short of the sticks for no gain. It was then determined Vic Fangio had called a timeout before the play began.
Then on the retry, they decided to use Phillip Lindsay as the power back over Melvin Gordon and Lindsay was stuffed for no gain.
Meanwhile, the Panthers offense continued to find a lot of success throwing the ball against the Broncos beleaguered secondary in the final quarter. They followed up the touchdown drive with a field goal to close the score to 25-10 with just over five minutes to go in the game.
Denver has not gone three-and-out today, so if the offense can continue that trend, the Broncos should be able to drain a decent amount of time off the clock (and force the Panthers to use their three remaining timeouts).— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) December 13, 2020
The Broncos next drive started out with Lock running outside for a six yard gain. Then a screen pass to Melvin Gordon broke tackle after tackle for a 20 yard gain across midfield as the clock ticked under four minutes in the game.
Drew Lock would apparently ice the game with a 49-yard touchdown pass to KJ Hamler to put Denver up 32-20.
Drew Lock has four touchdown passes for the first time in his NFL career. pic.twitter.com/6VjG1YiHMm— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 13, 2020
Lock would become the first Broncos quarterback with a four touchdown game since Trevor Siemian in 2017. He would finish 21/27 for 280 yards and four touchdowns on the day.
Denver scored a bit too quickly as Bridgewater and the Panthers scored quick themselves with over three minutes to go in the game to cut the lead to 32-27.
The Broncos went away with the hot hand in Melvin Gordon on the following drive and back-to-back runs by Lindsay netted negative four yards. Back at their own three yard line, Lock nearly threw an interception but the ball was ultimately caught by Gordon who ran it out to the line of scrimmage to bring out the punt unit.
The Panthers would return the punt to midfield, but a holding penalty pushed them back ten yards. The Broncos defense would actually ice the game from there forcing the Panthers to turn the ball over on downs with just under two minutes to play.
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