For the third straight week, the Broncos lost in a horrifically painful manner.
In Week 1, they were thoroughly outclassed, and honestly embarrassed by a bad Raiders team in front of the nation on Monday Night Football. In Week 2, they choked a potential-instant-classic win away, and the referees didn’t help. This time, they managed to outplay the NFC’s second-best team for long stretches of the game, but couldn’t find a way to not shoot themselves in the foot. I mean, it can’t get worse than this…right?
With that now in the rearview, let’s sift through all the pain to try to find three stars and three stooges from Sunday’s game.
Phillip Lindsay was the engine of the Broncos’ offense against the incredibly stout Packers’ defense, and showed once again, that he deserves to be mentioned along with the league’s other elite running backs.
Most impressive was his second touchdown, in which he somehow slipped through the fingers of two Packers defensive linemen that looked like mountains next to the smaller Lindsay, before being tossed into the endzone by Dalton Risner.
Lindsay toted the ball 21 times for the Broncos picking up 81 yards and two scores, gaining another 49 on his four receptions. Those efforts were enough to not only be the team’s leading rusher but their second-place receiver in both receptions and yards.
Bausby locked down opposing Packer receivers for much of Sunday’s game, but most impressively, forced two massive third-down incompletions.
Even with Yiadom playing much better today than he did against the Raiders, or even the Bears, watching Bausby leap off the screen should make any Bronco fan wonder if he could’ve been the difference in Week 1 or 2.
After two less-than-stellar performances against the Bears and Raiders, the Broncos defense looked much improved.
The defense suffocated Aaron Rodgers for most of the game. 27 points might not sound like a lockdown effort, but remember, 14 of the points came off turnovers that set the Packers up with the ball in scoring range, and seven more came off a free play penalty where the Broncos were caught napping.
That being said, the lack of sacks and takeaways will remain a bugaboo for the group, as they were once again unable to get on the board in either category.
Although the sack famine grabs more headlines, the Broncos’ negative-four turnover differential through three weeks is a huge concern. Games are often decided by the turnover differential and the Broncos have been completely unable of taking the ball away from their opponents this season, and the problem reared its head at Lambeau Field.
With the Broncos’ defense starved of big plays, the offense gave the game away by allowing the Packers’ defense to make three colossal ones.
In this game, the turnovers alone were responsible for a swing of at least 17 points. Three off the board for Flacco’s flukey interception as the Broncos were marching down the field, and the other 14 on the aforementioned fumbles.
Brandon McManus was one of the most reliable kickers in the league a season ago, but so far this season he looks closer to his 2017 version that connected on just 75 percent of kicks.
McManus was saved from a game-losing missed extra point last week when the Bears jumped offside, but against the Packers, he wasn’t as lucky.
While it’s not time to sound the alarms yet, the Broncos will heavily rely on McManus’ kicking this season, especially given their redzone struggles.
Joe Flacco & Elijah Wilkinson
Flacco is an enormous upgrade on Denver’s other quarterbacks in recent history and played a clean game for much of the day, but his two turnovers cost the Broncos in the end.
Without a doubt, Flacco is partially responsible for the fumble inside the Broncos’ 10, but it should be noted Elijah Wilkinson was even more at fault. He got beat badly by Preston Smith and then botched the recovery in embarrassing fashion.
On the interception, the ball slipped out of Flacco’s hands and directly into those of the defender, as the Broncos were driving down the field to shrink the lead.