Week One Takeaways - Heartbreak at Mile High as Broncos Lose a Close One

Denver fall to 0-1 on the season, losing a close one to the Titans on a last minute Stephen Gostkowski Field Goal.

It had been 261 days since the Denver Broncos last played an NFL game, and you could easily be forgiven for thinking it was 261 months – The longest off-season in NFL history was one filled with as much drama, trades and injuries as just about any other.

As if Broncos fans hadn’t waited long enough for football to return, luck would have it that their season opener was scheduled to be the last game of week one; the late Monday Night Football Kick-off. An 8:20pm Kick-Off in Denver, 10:20pm on the East Coast and 03:20am in the UK and Ireland and 04:20am in Central Europe.

The 2019 Broncos got off to a heart breaking start last season, losing multiple games to last minute field goals. With 2020 staying true to its character; the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Broncos fell 16-14 to the Tennessee Titans in their season opener after a last minute Stephen Gostkowski field goal – despite the former Patriot missing four, yes FOUR, previous kicks.

Drew Lock looked settled, professional – Still room for improvement

The Broncos second year talisman showed himself in a good light for the most part on Monday night. He led a couple of great drives and looked comfortable in the offence, calling audibles and checking plays at the line of scrimmage. He finished 22/33, 216yds & 1TD. He also rushed for just 5 yards on three attempts. His touchdown pass came in the first quarter; a designed play-action throw, Lock rolled to his right and found Tight End Noah Fant just passed the chalk at the front of the end zone. There were a couple of missed deep balls from Lock throughout the game that may be cause for concern if they continue – one in particular where he missed DaeSean Hamilton for a certain touchdown. Looking forward, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives for Lock and although he didn’t light the game up and deliver a superstar performance as many might have wanted he will look to improve on his mistakes moving into week two.

Drops scar Jeudy debut but it’s not time to panic, yet.

First round pick Jerry Jeudy showed at times why he deserved to go early in the first round. The former Alabama wide out caught four catches for 56 yards. He also had two drops and two passes broken up that were thrown his way. The worst of the drops came in the fourth quarter as the Broncos prepared to mount a game winning drive – Jeudy was certain to gain first down yardage and extend the drive instead the ball hit the turf and two plays later the Broncos punted the ball back to the Titans as they started their game winning drive.

Noah was Fant-astic!

With the team’s leading receiver Courtland Sutton still side-lined with a shoulder injury, second year tight end Noah Fant stepped up to the plate as the teams number one target. Fant caught 5 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown and is expected to have a break out season for the Broncos and solidifying himself as one of the best tight ends in the league.

Defense Played Well – Killed by Penalties at Key Moments.

Despite losing Von Miller for the season less than a week before the opening game, the Broncos defense held its own last night and performed well against an offense that many expected would run for fun against them. Derrick Henry was limited all game to short and medium runs and was never allowed to get into his full rhythm like he was so used to doing last season. Henry rushed the ball 31 times for 116 yards, an average of 3.7 yards per carry. He also caught three passes for fifteen yards – the stat line flatters Henry more so than it should. Overall, the Broncos defense played well but were ultimately beaten by themselves as two key penalties provided big changes in momentum and swung the game in the Broncos favour. An interception was wiped off the board as a result of an unsportsmanlike conduct call against Alexander Johnson. Fourth quarter, inside the two minute warning a pass interference call against rookie CB Michael Ojemudia – who had an otherwise great game - moved the Titans into the Broncos half and thus kept their game winning drive alive.

O-Line was… O-K.

What at times has felt like a jigsaw puzzle, the Broncos offensive line came together in week one and put in a good clean shift and kept Drew Lock upright. Lock wasn’t sacked once and had plenty of time to make throws where needed. Yes, at times the line broke down and Lock had to scramble but the basis of a good core is there and they showed positive signs that the team can rely on for the rest of the season.

The defeat was gut wrenchingly close, a couple plays that could’ve gone either way are what swung the result in Tennessee’s favour. That, and the poor clock management down the stretch which many fans have questioned in the aftermath of the game are a couple of things that both the team and fans will want to see executed differently next week in Pittsburgh when the Broncos take on the Steelers.

Stay tuned to Colorado & Broncos Europe this week for a preview of the week two game and further analysis of the team as the season goes on.