The Broncos won another game, their second of the year, in Week 6 against the Patriots. They did not score any touchdowns, but Broncos kicker Brandon McManus put a record six kicks through the uprights to get the 18-12 win.
It wasn’t a pretty win, but that doesn’t count in the record book. This goes down as a “W” for the Broncos and many lessons can be learned from this contest.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio revealed after the victory who received game balls for their performance.
“We gave one to McManus. I was told he set a Broncos team record for six field goals. I thought hard about letting him try for the seventh one there that would have been 57 or 58. If he had missed, I didn’t want to give them the good field position and jumpstart their offense there so I don’t regret the decision. And we’re going to deliver a game ball to (running backs coach) Curtis Modkins in light of his absence here. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled that we won. He’s feeling great, he has no symptoms. I know it’s tough for him to miss this game, but we’re going to give one to him,” Fangio said.
The Broncos can build some momentum as they look to face their toughest opponent of the year in Week 7. The team is at home for a game against the Super Bowl champion Chiefs next Sunday. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from the Week 6 win.
It was good to see Phillip Lindsay out there on the field for the Broncos. A turf toe injury forced Lindsay out of the lineup for the last three games. Lindsay got healthy and returned to the field this week and was the lead back with Melvin Gordon battling strep throat and not traveling with the team. In his return, the back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher made a big splash.
Lindsay rushed for 101 yards on 23 carries against the Patriots in Week 6. The Patriots had not allowed a single 100-yard rusher this year and Lindsay broke that streak. Lindsay showed good burst with the ball in his hands, and the Broncos had no problem feeding him the rock over and over again. Instead of easing him back into action, Lindsay proved that he can handle a large workload and produce with hard-fought yardage.
Fangio had some good things to say about Lindsay’s performance after the game.
“I thought at times he looked really, really good, like Phillip has always looked. And then there were times that I thought he was a little rusty, but that’s to be expected. He hadn’t played since the first half of our opener and when I think you consider everything, he played good. But I think he will look at it and think he left some yards out there,” Fangio said.
Drew Lock did not complete 50 percent of his passes against the Patriots, largely due to the several dropped balls his receivers could not haul in. Lock threw 24 passes, but only completed 10 of those on Sunday. It’s not officially credited yet, but by my count, the Broncos had five or six drops, with most of those coming in the end zone.
Lock was slinging the rock all over the field – mainly taking shots down the field. Those are low percentage throws to begin with, but it certainly doesn’t help the numbers when guys like Jerry Jeudy, DaeSean Hamilton and Albert Okwuegbunam can’t haul them in. It’s easy to see that Lock’s numbers could have been much better had his receivers come through with better days.
Fangio gave his opinion on what could possibly be causing all these drops and if rust from not playing for two weeks is the culprit.
“I don’t think it comes down to rust. If the ball is up in the air, then there’s a chance there and we’ve got to find a way to make those plays. Whether it be another inch or two farther in the throw, going up there competing for the ball, we’ve got to be better at those. You’re not going to get them all, but I do think we could have converted at least one of those, which would have had a major impact on the game,” Fangio said.
The Broncos need to learn how to close out games. In two of their three losses, the Broncos were not able to come back and win. In their only two victories, the Broncos have not been able to truly distance themselves enough for a comfortable win.
On Sunday against the Patriots, the Broncos almost gave the game away. Lock himself was the main culprit with his second interception that was thrown deep when the team just needed to try and grind out the clock with the rushing attack. That is partly on offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur for calling a play like that instead of banging it with the ground game. It’s also on Lock for making an ill-advised throw into coverage.
Fangio believes the team can take valuable lessons from this as they are still learning how to win these tight ballgames.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that you have to learn how to win, but that’s a three-phase operation that has to do that. We’ve got to be better in the fourth quarter there to close that out. But hey, sometimes it’s going to happen that way. Sometimes, the offense is going to struggle and the defense is going to have to continue to go back out there and finish the game. Sometimes you’re going to get in a shootout and it gets to where the team that has the ball last has the chance to win the game and that might have to be us some day. Hopefully, we can learn from this. That’s two games that we’ve won on the road that were tight, tight games. I’m proud of the guys,” Fangio said.
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