All you can do sometimes is shake your head. The 2020 season was supposed to be different. In a way, it has been, but it isn’t the different Broncos Country has been hoping for.
In the second week of the NFL season the Denver Broncos traveled east to play the Pittsburgh Steelers in an early game. That’s not usually a recipe for success for the Broncos, and Sunday was no different.
On top of the difficulty of traveling east for a morning game, the injury bug that has hit a bunch of teams in the NFL seems to have hit some big names across the league has also settled in Broncos Country.
Courtland Sutton left the game with a sore knee. Dre’Mont Jones and DeMarcus Walker on the defensive line couldn’t finish the game. Jerry Jeudy played through a rib injury. And of course, the one that could change the course of the season, Drew Lock injured his shoulder.
We could spend all day discussing the injury to Lock and the repercussions. I’m sure many of you will spend an exorbitant amount of time here at MHR doing just that. I will. But for just a moment, I want to avoid that.
I’m not going to crush this team for their performance. It was gutsy. The outcome really hinged on just a couple plays, which tells me something about this Broncos team. They won’t quit.
They had plenty of chances to just give up, but didn’t. The injury to Drew Lock could have been the roll over and die moment. Instead, Denver was able to regroup, and score 11 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter to get back into the game.
A Justin Simmons interception led to a Brandon McManus field goal. On the next Steelers possession they put together a 9 play drive that stalled out when Denver forced a turnover on downs. Six plays later, Noah Fant hauled in his second TD pass of the season. He put the exclamation point on the drive by also converting the 2-point conversion.
Fant has been a bright spot in the gloominess of the start of the season. He’s a big time weapon on offense. He should continue to play a big roll in the offense this season.
Along with Fant, Melvin Gordon has had a good start to his season. His touchdown catch in the 4th quarter gave the Broncos life, and put them in a position to comeback.
In the end, it came down to the safety in the 4th quarter. Without those two points Denver is sitting on a chip shot field goal to tie the game, rather than needing a touchdown. And yes, had McManus hit the 58 yard field goal earlier in the game it would have been a short field goal for the win. I’m not going to crush McManus here. That’s a long way to kick a ball, but it sure would have been nice.
The bottom line is that the Broncos loss was only exacerbated by the loss of Lock. His injury could dictate more than just what happens with the Broncos in the next few weeks. The implications could push all the way to next year’s NFL Draft.