The talk in Denver going into the Broncos’ matchup versus the Atlanta Falcons was how the Falcons’ No. 1 offense in the league hadn’t seen a defense like the Broncos. After the Broncos’ 23-16 loss to the Falcons, the talk was about how the Broncos haven’t seen running backs like the Falcons have.

“They ran the ball extremely well. Their backs accounted for a lot of offense today,” head coach Gary Kubiak said. “They did a helluva job.”

The Falcons out-rushed the Broncos 122 yards to 84 and consistently turned to the running game to exploit the Broncos defense.

“They were just breaking out big runs on us, and we were letting things happen — it was very uncharacteristic of our defense,” defensive end Derek Wolfe said after the loss.

Even though the run defense was sub-par, the pass defense was even worse, especially against the Falcons’ running backs. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 286 total yards of offense, 167 of those yards coming through the air. Coleman, a fast back, had no problem exposing the Broncos linebackers in coverage, racking up 132 yards receiving on just four receptions.

“[As] linebackers, that’s our responsibility. We have to cover running backs coming out of the backfield, that’s our job,” inside linebacker Corey Nelson said.

Nelson, while he did play sparingly throughout the game, was referring to the play of fellow inside linebackers Todd Davis and Brandon Marshall. The game plan was for Davis and Marshall to cover the Falcons backs out of the backfield and that plan did not change during the game.

“They know they didn’t have a good game,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said after the loss.

While Nelson said that both Davis and Marshall have the physical skills to cover quick running backs, Kubiak said it wasn’t entirely their fault.

“The key problem was that they had time to get [the running backs] down the field,” Kubiak said. “You can’t ask [Brandon Marshall] and those guys, Todd [Davis], to hold up that long.”

Now that the damage is already done, the key is making sure that running backs don’t hurt the Broncos through the air like this again.

“We are just going to anticipate it now,” Nelson said. “We didn’t get that all season, but now that we got it, we can make the correct adjustments and put ourselves in the right position to be able to make the play or stop it from happening.”

However, the question arises on what happens if the Broncos face another running back as fast a Coleman? Cornerback Aqib Talib says that’s not a concern, because it’s not possible.

“The other offensive coordinators better have a number 26 [Atlanta running back Tevin Coleman], who ran a 4.3 [40-yard dash] coming out of college, which they don’t,” Talib said.

The Broncos entered Sunday’s game with one of the stoutest defenses in the game. After facing the Falcons, they now have a glaring hole on their ability to cover running backs out of the backfield.