Denver got their quarterback, Drew Lock, back yesterday but it was the kicker who stole the show. Brandon McManus’ six made field goals powered the Broncos to an 18-12 win over the New England Patriots yesterday afternoon. Here are my three takeaways from the Denver victory.
- The Broncos defense locked up Cam and company.
No one was really sure which Broncos team would show up after a 17 day stretch without a game. Unfortunately for Cam Newton and the Patriots offense, the Denver defense announced their presence early and were there to stay. The Broncos would hold Newton to just 157 passing yards while forcing him to throw two interceptions. Denver’s front seven also was able to get to the quarterback often, sacking him four times. Two of the four sacks belonged to the second-year man out of Nevada, Malik Reed.
The Denver defense did not stop there as they would go on to force four fumbles, recovering one. Besides a partial fourth quarter lapse, possibly from fatigue, the Broncos held New England to just 288 total yards and only 14 total first downs. Throw in a huge stop on both 3rd and 16 and 4th and 10 to win the game and you get one solid defensive day from a defense looking to find its mojo heading into the middle of the season.
- The offense looked great at times, but needs to find ways to cash in.
The Denver offense had three drives of over 12 plays and four drives over 40 yards. They were able to move the ball well on most of their drives but were unable to score a touchdown for the entire 60 minutes. Drew Lock only completed 10 of his 24 pass attempts and had a QBR of 19.6, but that was almost solely due to the aggressive, downfield play calling throughout the game. On his 10 completions, Lock threw for 189 yards and two interceptions. He was able to find his new favorite target, Tim Patrick, four times for 101 yards on eight targets.
Phillip Lindsay also returned to the Broncos offense and played extremely well in place of Melvin Gordon. Lindsay carried the ball 23 times for 101 yards and was vital in keeping drives alive when the pass game was not working. It will be a huge boost to the offense if tight end Noah Fant is able to return from injury within the next few weeks because that gives Lock another big target who he can hit for shorter gains over the middle.
- Brandon McManus is very good.
Yes, we already knew this, but I thought I would reiterate it. McManus went six for six on field goal tries yesterday making them from 45, 44, 27, 52, 20 and 54 yards. The kicker is now 12/13 on field goals in 2020, including an impressive 4/4 from 40-49 yards and 5/6 from 50+. Tack on being a perfect 8/8 on extra points and you have one reliable kicker.
As for the rest of the Denver special teams, there were no mistakes in yesterday’s game. This is huge because in both Denver wins thus far, the special teams have done their jobs and not costed Denver any points. In their three losses this year, the Denver special teams has directly cost the team nine points in pivotal situations and indirectly cost them over 20 points. It is becoming clear that Denver’s path to victory goes through their special teams play.
The Broncos are now 2-3 and will host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. eastern time.