Most of the talk this season for the Denver Broncos has been the mounting injuries this team has suffered. Those injuries finally caused the wheels to come off as they were steamrolled at home 28-10 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Now 0-3 and staring a short week Thursday Night Football game against the equally hapless New York Jets, the Broncos must decide if Blake Bortles is ready to start or if they will continue with Jeff Driskel or Brett Rypien at quarterback.
The Buccaneers won the opening coin toss and elected to defer to Jeff Driskel and the Broncos offense to start the game.
After one first down, the offense stalled out and were forced to punt. The Buccaneers took advantage of a poorly executed special teams call and blocked the Sam Martin punt attempt to recover at the Broncos nine yard line. Three plays later Tom Brady hit Chris Godwin for a touchdown and an early 7-0 lead over Denver.
Denver would have three possessions in the first quarter. There was that blocked punt and two back-to-back three and outs. Brady and the Buccaneers would end the quarter with a field goal to extend their lead to 10-0.
Per @pfref, the Broncos' 10-point deficit is their biggest after one quarter since the 51-23 loss at Philadelphia in 2017, when they were down by 14 points (17-3) after 15 minutes.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 27, 2020
To start the second quarter, the Broncos built on their 3 total yard output in the first quarter with a longer type drive. They got within the Bucs 30-yard line, but Driskel chose to hold onto the ball instead of throwing it away outside the pocket for a 10-yard sack. The promising drive would end with a short underneath throw to Noah Fant.
That was enough for Brandon McManus to come out for a 56-yard field goal attempt that he would boot right through the uprights to put Denver on the board down 10-3 to the Buccaneers.
Justin Simmons was beaten deep on the Bucs next drive by Scotty Miller who Brady hit for a 47-yard gain. They would close out the drive with a touchdown to put Tampa Bay up by two touchdowns in the first half 17-3.
Touchdown, Brady to Evans on third-and-goal.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 27, 2020
Tampa Bay was 4-of-4 on third downs on that series.
Bucs lead, 17-3. Tom Brady is sinking and dunking the Broncos to death.
Driskel and the Broncos offense would continue to look out of sync and unable to produce many first downs. That would lead to more stress on the Denver defense and, ultimately, more points for the Buccaneers.
The first half would end with another scoring drive by Tampa Bay and a 23-3 lead late in the first half. The one bright spot was Joe Jones blocking the PAT on that last drive.
In the two minute drill, the Broncos offense came alive. Driskel found a spark hitting Tim Patrick over the middle of the field on 3rd and 20 to get Denver past midfield. Patrick continued making the plays when he capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown reception to cut the Bucs lead just before halftime to 23-10.
.@Tpstreets' first TD of the year!— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) September 27, 2020
: #TBvsDEN on FOX pic.twitter.com/7AbeuFSkf2
There was some hope the late first half drive was a turning point, but it wasn’t to be. After a couple of drops by Noah Fant, Shaq Barrett beat Lloyd Cushenberry inside to sack Driskel for a safety to put the Bucs up 25-10.
Jeff Driskel's sacked for a safety by Shaq Barrett after beating Lloyd Cushenberry to the QB. pic.twitter.com/40GJxx1nJR— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 27, 2020
Shaq Barrett after that safety #BroncosCountry pic.twitter.com/opFUrHK8GL— Ryan Greene (@RyanCBS4) September 27, 2020
Royce Freeman saw his name called late in the third quarter when Driskel found him open for a 27-yard gain out to midfield to convert a third down and get the Broncos going. The drive would end with Driskel under tremendous pressure having the ball popped up and intercepted by the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay would turn that interception in three points before the end of the quarter to extend their lead to 28-10.
With 10 minutes left in the game, Denver had seen enough of Driskel and brought Brett Rypien into the game. He would start out his NFL career completing his first eight passes marching the Broncos down into the red zone.
Rypien finds Jerry Jeudy for a 20+ yard gain. pic.twitter.com/cjwOiy3r0C— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 27, 2020
However, on fourth and goal he had his streak ended with an interception at the goal line to keep the score at 28-10.
From there Tamp Bay would run the clock down and send the Broncos to 0-3 on the season.
Broncos 2020 schedule
|1||9/14/2020||vs. Tennessee Titans (MNF)||8:10 PM||ESPN||14-16||0-1|
|2||9/20/2020||at Pittsburgh Steelers||11:00 AM||CBS||21-26||0-2|
|3||9/27/2020||vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2:25 PM||FOX||10-28||0-3|
|4||10/1/2020||at New York Jets (TNF)||6:20 PM||FOX||37-28||1-3|
|6||10/18/2020||at New England Patriots||11:00 AM||CBS||18-12||2-3|
|7||10/25/2020||vs. Kansas City Chiefs||2:25 PM||CBS||16-43||2-4|
|8||11/1/2020||vs. Los Angeles Chargers||2:05 PM||CBS||31-30||3-4|
|9||11/8/2020||at Atlanta Falcons||11:00 AM||CBS||27-34||3-5|
|10||11/15/2020||at Las Vegas Raiders||2:25 PM||CBS||12-37||3-6|
|11||11/22/2020||vs. Miami Dolphins||2:05 PM||CBS||20-13||4-6|
|12||11/29/2020||vs. New Orleans Saints||2:05 PM||CBS||3-31||4-7|
|13||12/6/2020||at Kansas City Chiefs (SNF)||6:20 PM||NBC||16-22||4-8|
|14||12/13/2020||at Carolina Panthers||11:00 AM||CBS||32-27||5-8|
|15||12/19/2020||vs. Buffalo Bills||2:30 PM||NFLN||19-48||5-9|
|16||12/27/2020||at Los Angeles Chargers||2:05 PM||CBS||16-19||5-10|
|17||1/3/2021||vs. Las Vegas Raiders||2:25 PM||CBS|