Sport Broncos Report Card: D’s and F’s after horrid second half against Raiders for Denver
Broncos defense bails out AWOL offense with safety, two late takeaways in 11-10 primetime win over 49ers
When the Broncos offense went AWOL in prime time, the Denver defense was there to save the day. The Broncos forced two turnovers in the final 2:13 of the game, and also had a safety that ended up being the difference in an 11-10 win over the 49ers on Sunday Night Football at Empower Field. It was a statement performance by the Denver D, one that outside linebacker Bradley Chubb believes should put the NFL on notice. “Look at the forced fumble, the pick, the (four) sacks, and it just starts adding up,” Chubb said. “I don’t want to get too brash in saying this, but: We’re the best in the (expletive) league.
The Broncos’ report card from their 32-23 loss at Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon.
Offense — D
A promising start and, then, ouch. Denver opened the second half with four straight punts and only a single first down before finally engineering a touchdown drive. By that time, the Broncos were trailing by two scores. This problem is now four games old: Offensive rhythm only shows up in fits and spurts rather than long, consistent stretches. Case-in-point: Much of the first half featured the Russell Wilson Denver figured it was getting when it made the massive trade this spring: 11 of 12, 149 yards and touchdown passes of 28 yards to Jerry Jeudy and five to Courtland Sutton. Turnovers, though, kill offenses. A fumble on your first snap of the game that gets returned for a touchdown? That’s territory at this point reserved for Melvin Gordon, who has put the ball on the ground four times in four games this year.
Where does the 49ers’ loss in Denver leave them? Exposed
DENVER — Upon further review, all is not well. Seven days earlier, even amid the heartache provoked by quarterback Trey Lance’s season-ending ankle injury, there was a sense of optimism emanating from the San Francisco 49ers’ locker room. The unexpected return of Jimmy Garoppolo to a talented team with the league’s top-ranked defense made it feel as though the Niners could recapture the mojo they manufactured during the second half of the 2021 season, one emphatic victory at a time. On Sunday night, in front of a massive national-TV audience, and a stadium full of fans flustered by their own team’s offensive ineptitude, the 2022 Niners got exposed.
Defense — F
A rough outing after a mostly strong start to the season for Ejiro Evero’s group. For a while, it looked like the bend-but-don’t-break approach may be enough for Denver, but the dam finally burst in the fourth quarter. The Raiders rolled to more than 200 rushing yards on the afternoon, including a pair of bruising touchdown runs from Josh Jacobs, who was a force from the start. This after holding San Francisco’s vaunted rush offense to just 88 yards last week and winning that game with two late stands. It is difficult to be great every single week in the NFL, but the Broncos needed far better Sunday afternoon against a divisional opponent.
Special Teams — B
There were positives, certainly, highlighted by rookie Montrell Washington’s best game as a return man so far this season. He ran back three punts for 66 yards, each setting the Broncos up with excellent field position. A heads-up pounce by Alex Singleton to recover a surprise onside kick attempt that squirted loose, too, put Denver in prime position. On the negative side of the ledger, Denver’s kick return coverage leaked and its kicking game faltered in the second quarter when a high snap from Jacob Bobenmoyer led to a missed extra point.
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Russell Wilson 4, Eli Manning 0. “Come on, Chad Powers?” Wilson laughed when I mentioned the youngest Manning brother’s comments Wednesday, a reference to the character he just played at a Penn State tryout for the Manning brothers’ Omaha Productions. “Yeah, you know, Chad Powers? I’m 3-0 against Chad Powers.” (Checks Wilson’s game logs. Yep. 3-0.) “Listen, I think that it’s part of the game, man,” the Broncos’ quarterback continued. “It’s just those (Mannings) having fun, and everything else. I have a lot of respect for Peyton and Eli and those guys … I’ve always looked up to those guys. So I’m not stressed about it.
Coaching — D
The teams looked evenly matched in the first half and lopsided in the second half. Somewhere along the way, the Raiders figured out Denver and Denver didn’t figure out the Raiders. Losing Javonte Williams didn’t help, of course, but the Broncos mostly looked lost after halftime. After a one-week penalty reprieve (relatively speaking), Denver was back to being too heavily flagged. They had seven penalties accepted for 50 yards and once again ended up too far behind the sticks too often. Melvin Gordon’s usage was interesting. He didn’t play for more than 25 minutes of game time, then fumbled on his first snap. He only returned later because of Williams’ injury.
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