The Denver Broncos did not pick up where they left off last season. Despite taking home a 21-20 victory in the Super Bowl rematch to open the season, the Broncos defense was full of mental errors. In the first half alone, they faced four 12-men-on-the-field penalties — one of the most-inexcusable penalties in football — only getting called for two after burning two timeouts to avoid the penalty yardage.

Luckily, when the clock struck zero, and with the help of Graham Gano‘s right leg, the Broncos were able to overcome their mental mistakes.

Still, the defense seemed to do more harm than good for the Broncos on Thursday night.

Although timeouts in the first half are not nearly as valuable as timeouts in the second half, using multiple timeouts to avoid mental penalties helped Carolina more than it helped Denver by allowing Cam Newton to regroup and plan for what the defense Denver was showing before the timeout.

Cornerback Aqib Talib wasn’t afraid to point fingers at who was responsible for the errors.

“I think one of the young guys didn’t get the signal and didn’t know what personnel we were in. Our coaches need to do a better job of getting the players out and the players have to do a better job of communicating. We had bad communication in a lot of situations,” Talib said after the victory.

Now, the Broncos were far from a mistake-free defense in 2015 — mostly drawing flags for countless unnecessary roughness penalties — but when going up against the No. 1 offense in the NFL, you have little room for errors.

The offense wasn’t much better, turning the ball over three times and struggling in late-half situations.

With less than two minutes left in the first half, the Broncos decided to throw the ball, which stopped the clock, instead of running the ball and running the clock out. The same was true with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, when the Broncos had an opportunity to seal the game with a strong four-minute offense. In both instances, the Panthers were given extra time to drive the ball down the field for potential scores.

And that’s without mentioning Chris Harris‘ hands-to-the-face penalty that extended the Panthers’ final drive or Darian Stewart‘s roughing-the-passer penalty that did the same.

There’s no doubt that the Broncos have talent, but their room for error is about as slim as any playoff hopeful team.This time they were able to overcome, but don’t expect similar results in the future.