Sundays are far better when the Denver Broncos win.
It’s a feeling we haven’t experienced much the last four seasons, so it’s always nice when it happens. So I’ll take the Broncos 32-27 win over the Carolina Panthers and wash it down with a bourbon on the rocks. If you’re into betting on the Broncos, you’re especially happy.
On top of the winning feeling, Broncos Country gets a glimpse of what this team could look like in 2021 and the seasons to come. Yes, I get that the Panthers aren’t very good, but we’ve seen Denver make steady improvement since the Miami Dolphins game.
Now with three games left in the 2020 regular season, we’ll see if the 5-8 Broncos can continue this trend.
Before I get into the winners and losers, I wanted to take a moment to pay respects to former Colorado Avalanche general manager Pierre Lacroix, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 72. The news was released during Denver’s game, and I’m still stunned. Somehow 2020 finds a way to strike again. It’s heartbreaking news. As an Avalanche fan, I always loved how he never settled. He consistently looked to get his team better. And Lacroix was instrumental to bringing the first championship to Denver. Thoughts are with the Lacroix family.
Per the usual, I’m bound to forget someone, leave them off or put them in the wrong category, so please mention them in the comments.
The Broncos defensive coordinator was back in the booth on Sunday after missing six games due to COVID-19. It was great to see Donatell back with the team. Mile High Salute, coach.
Broncos QB Drew Lock (21-27, 280 yds., 4 TD, 0 INT) today posted the third-highest passer rating (149.5) for a game in team history.— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) December 13, 2020
His passer rater today trailed only performances by Peyton Manning (157.2 vs. SF, 10/19/14) and John Elway (156.0 vs. AZ, 11/5/95). https://t.co/NDNiibH0EG
There is no doubt this showing was the quarterback’s best of 2020. If you want to crap all over Lock’s play by saying he did this against a bad defense instead of just acknowledging he played good football, kindly take a seat and sit this one out. Rest assured if Lock had struggled, as some expected (hoped), these same people excusing his play due to the quality of the defense would use that Panthers horridness as a way to point out how bad Lock is. Does this mean he’s the answer? Of course not, but it’s a step in the right direction. Lock finished the game 21-for-27 passing for 280 yards and four touchdowns. The key stat? No interceptions.
Denver’s punt returner got the scoring started with an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown. It was the first punt return for a TD in Denver since Omar Bolden in 2015.
The rookie receiver flashed the speed and deep-threat ability the Broncos hoped he would add to the offense. Hamler finished with a team-high 86 yards on just two catches. But those two catches went for touchdowns. I’ll add an honorable mention for the route running of Jerry Jeudy. Holy smokes, this kid is going to be great.
Can't touch this. @Kj_hamler | : CBS pic.twitter.com/uTxs3Tq0HP— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 13, 2020
Troy Fumagali and Nick Vannett
Both of Denver’s tight ends helped ease the absence of Noah Fant. Both Fumagali and Vannett had great games. Fumagali had four receptions for 53 yards, while Vannett had four catches for 20 yards and a touchdown.
The Broncos safety made his presence felt in his first game back. He was also over the field. Parks finished with six tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hit. Welcome back to Broncos Country, Parks.
Michael Ojemudia and De’Vante Bausby
As I did with Fumgali and Vannett, I’ll combine Ojemudia and Bausby. These two guys deserve a ton of credit for how they played on Sunday. As for Ojemudia, he continues to improve each week. Both of Denver’s cornerbacks finished with the same stat line: five tackles and one pass defended. Bausby also seemed to have a sure pick but wasn’t able to bring it in.
It certainly felt like the Broncos edge was all over the field, and he was. Attaochu had four tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and one quarterback hit.
When you look at the stats for the game, his weren’t exactly Earth-shattering. Walker had one tackle, one sack, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hit. But as Sayre Bedinger pointed out on Twitter, Walker now has a career-high 4.5 sacks. Sayre added that since Fangio has become the Broncos head coach, Walker has 8.5 sacks in 20 games. He had two sacks in 13 games of the Vance Joseph era.
Since Vic Fangio has become the Broncos head coach, DeMarcus Walker has 8.5 sacks in 20 games. He had two sacks in 13 games of the Vance Joseph era.— Sayre Bedinger (@SayreBedinger) December 13, 2020
It’s not every day that Denver’s kicker is on the losers list. But he didn’t have a good day. McManus missed two extra points. And he was the first to admit it after the game. Something tells me the Broncos kicker will be just fine.
Brandon McManus sucked today— Brandon McManus (@thekidmcmanus) December 13, 2020
Broncos draft pick
There is no doubt a contingent of Broncos Country who are not pleased after this game. Denver entered with the No. 10 pick and this win will drop that.