Following a strong finish last season, there were a lot of expectations placed on the Denver Broncos. Drew Lock was said to be the guy who would lead them to the playoffs. Jerry Jeudy and Melvin Gordon were positive additions to give Lock the weapons he needed. If the 2020-21 season was any indication, the Broncos will need more than that to find success going forward.
Denver Broncos Come Out of the Gate Slow
The Broncos opened the season with a home game on Monday Night Football against the Tennessee Titans. It was a low-scoring defensive slugfest until the fourth quarter. In the end, the Titans would kick the game-winning field goal with just 17 seconds left to send Denver to 0-1. The next week saw the Broncos travel east to play the Pittsburgh Steelers. In this game, Drew Lock would be taken out early with an injury, forcing him to miss some time. Jeff Driskel took over and didn’t do too bad, but he couldn’t prevent the Steelers from earning a 26-21 win.
Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would come into Denver and shut down the Broncos’ offense to win 28-10. The Broncos had a short week in between this loss and a Thursday night matchup with the New York Jets. Melvin Gordon turned back the clock at the Meadowlands, eclipsing the 100-yard mark on the ground. Brett Rypien did just enough under center to lead the Denver Broncos to their first win heading into their bye week.
Broncos Trade Wins and Losses in the Middle of the Season
Following their bye, the Broncos took a trip up to Boston to take on the New England Patriots. All of Denver’s scoring in this game came courtesy of kicker Brandon McManus. His six field goals combined with a suffocating defensive effort led the Broncos to an 18-12 victory. The winning streak would end at two games the following week as Kansas City absolutely trounced the Broncos in Denver 43-16.
The Los Angeles Chargers then came in to Mile High and built a 24-3 lead halfway through the third quarter. Then there was a momentum swing as Phillip Lindsay would run for a 55-yard touchdown to bring it to a two-score game. The Broncos wound up scoring the winning touchdown and extra point with no time left on the clock. It was a remarkable turn of events and a candidate for the NFL game of the year.
The positive energy was short-lived, however. The Denver Broncos would then face the other team that is also known for choking in the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta would almost throw away a 21-point lead, but they were able to hold on to earn a 34-27 win.
Denver Broncos Fail to Find Their Groove
The following week saw the Las Vegas Raiders take advantage of Drew Lock’s mistakes. Four interceptions propelled the Raiders to a 37-12 win. Denver would next host the red-hot Miami Dolphins in a Week 12 matchup. In a very surprising turn of events, the Broncos held Tua Tagovailoa to only 83 yards passing, prompting the Dolphins to make a QB switch to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick brought Miami within one score, but a Justin Simmons INT sealed the 20-13 upset win for the Broncos.
Broncos Crumble Down the Stretch
The bottom really fell out for the Denver Broncos the following week when the entire QB room was put on the quarantine list and ruled out for the game against the New Orleans Saints. This would leave Kendall Hinton as the emergency starting quarterback for the Broncos. This went about as well as one might’ve predicted. Hinton threw for 13 yards and the Broncos would get blown out with the final score being 31-3. Drew Lock would come back for a rematch with the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. This game was close until Lock threw a pick with under a minute remaining to seal a Chiefs win.
Denver Broncos Skid to the Finish Line
The Broncos next went to Carolina. Drew Lock would have a career day in Charlotte, throwing for 280 yards and four touchdowns. The defense did their job well enough to get the Broncos their fifth win of the season. Skipping over the brutal beatdown that was the Buffalo Bills (48-19), the Broncos would look to rebound against the Chargers.
The Chargers went up by 13 early and blew the lead with 2:42 remaining in the game. This time, however, the Chargers would finish the job and win 19-16. The Broncos would look to end their nightmare season in a positive fashion against the Las Vegas Raiders. The two teams battled back and forth, but a successful two-point conversion secured the win for the Raiders.
The Denver Broncos have the ninth pick in the upcoming draft. While they probably won’t get rid of Drew Lock this offseason, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them try to acquire more offensive weapons. Denver also must address their pass defense. Next year could be make-or-break for Lock and the Broncos. Also, it will be interesting to see what happens with Von Miller. His investigation ongoing criminal could be a determining factor in the Broncos’ decision on whether or not to extend him.