With the best offensive performance of 2020, the Denver Broncos offense stole the show here this week with a majority of the game balls handed out by our MHR staff. The 32-27 victory over the Carolina Panthers lifted Denver to 5-8 and a chance to make a run to .500 before season’s end.
Before we get to our game balls, I noticed we didn’t have enough participants to give Diontae Spencer one. His first NFL score was an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave the Broncos an early lead and momentum. He will get an honorable mention from me here.
Diontae Spencer’s first career touchdown is an 83-yard punt return! @DSpencer4_ #BroncosCountry— NFL (@NFL) December 13, 2020
: #DENvsCAR on CBS
: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/tvMsTDEOAi pic.twitter.com/FX3kjbAJaS
Here are the rest of your game balls for the Broncos win on Sunday.
If you were waiting for a breakout game from a rookie, then you just saw it happen with KJ Hamler on Sunday. He had just two catches, but each were game breakers. The first came early in the third quarter to blow the game wide open. Drew Lock signaled to Hamler to a go route and he broke loose wide open for a 37-yard touchdown reception to put the Broncos up 19-7.
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
Then, late in the fourth quarter with the Panthers having all of the momentum having closed the gap to five points, Hamler again got loose behind the secondary and was wide open for the game-clinching score. The 49-yard score put the game away and gave Hamler 86 yards on those two receptions.
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
If you are going to break out with just two catches, they might as well be for huge gains and touchdowns. Well done, KJ! - Tim Lynch
Anytime your play puts you with the likes of John Elway and Peyton Manning, you must have done something right. It’s also a glimpse of what this offense could look like, especially when Courtland Sutton comes back healthy. - Ian St. Clair
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
The Broncos offensive line deserves some love. We learned hours before kickoff that Demar Dotson and Garett Bolles would be replaced by Elijah Wilkinson and Calvin Anderson. Both have played poorly this season. So much so that I was concerned Brian Burns and the pass rush could do enough to rush Lock into the kind of mistakes we’ve seen all year.
They had some hiccups such as Lock’s strip sack that led to a Carolina score, but I found myself quite pleased with their performance. Beyond that, Netane Muti offered glimpses of the type of road-grading play we’ve come to expect from Dalton Risner. Derrick Brown also failed to take over the game, which hints at the performance of the interior. Very encouraging game from the young linemen. - Joe Rowles
Jerry Jeudy’s stat line wasn’t the prettiest, but he demanded massive amounts of defensive attention, which opened things up for KJ Hamler. Go back watch the big plays Denver’s offense had and Jeudy pulling away the safeties was a big part of it. His time will come, but for now, he’s still running ridiculously filthy routes and letting his teammates eat. - Jeff Essary
Not worried about Jerry Jeudy pic.twitter.com/Q5rL1TV3LC— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 13, 2020
Melvin Gordon was an effective in both the run game (13 carries for 68 yards - 5.2 ypc) and in the passing game (3 catches for 23 yards), but his biggest contribution might have come on a play that won’t look like much in the boxscore. Facing 3rd and 13 from the 4 with 3:15 left to play in the game and CAR having one timeout, Drew Lock threw a ball the hit Lloyd Cushenberry III in the back of the helmet. Gordon saw the ball in the air and caught it.
I don't know what's worse, this play or Lock getting hurt. Both are awful. pic.twitter.com/oZIhOLnBWq— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 13, 2020
He was able to gain one yard after catching the ball in the end zone. Had Gordon let the ball drop, the Panthers would have been able to save their final timeout. I don’t know that it would have changed the outcome, but it could have. Gordon deserves the gameball for that play and for most of his runs where he was getting hit at or behind the LOS and still gaining yards. Gordon also made some really nice blocks in pass protection. On Hamler’s first touchdown Lock doesn’t get the throws off without a nice blitz pickup from Gordon. - Joe Mahoney
There were a lot of players that earned gameballs in the Broncos win over the Panthers. Both sides of the ball had players who were worthy, but one coach’s return earned him a gameball. Ed Donatell has been dealing with complications from COVID-19. He finally returned to the Broncos sidelines (booth, I guess), Sunday. He may not call the plays, but it’s obvious how much he means to his players. Vic Fangio gave him a gameball after the win, and I decided he should get one from MHR. - Adam Malnati
Back with the Broncos for just over a week after getting cut in Philly, Will Parks immediately proved he still remembers Vic Fangio’s ever-fluid defensive scheme. Parks had one sack for a huge loss of 16 yards, plus another tackle for a loss, one QB hit and six tackles overall. Good to you have you back, Philly Will. - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
Good win, we got more work to do that’s why I ain’t really saying to much about what happen today during the game, lots of good, great stuff to learn from especially me but I’m getting ready for Saturday right now... #BroncosCountry— William (@PhillyWill11) December 14, 2020