If NFL games are won in the trenches, the Broncos never had a chance. In the Denver Broncos 23-16 loss to the Falcons both the offensive and defensive lines were manhandled by Atlanta.

The struggles on the offensive line started before kickoff, when the inactives for the game were announced. While it was already known that quarterback Trevor Siemian would miss the game, there was hope that both tight end Virgil Green and right tackle Donald Stephenson would return from their two-week hiatus, but neither suited up, and it showed.

In the first half, the Broncos offensive line was ineffective in both the run and pass game, only racking up 76 total yards. They only managing 3.1 yards per rush and had almost as many sacks, two, as completions, three.

Ty Sambrailo, Stephenson’s replacement, had the worst game of his young career, giving up three sacks to a pass rush that only managed four through their previous four games. He was eventually replaced by Michael Schofield, who didn’t fare much better.

On the other side of the ball the line play wasn’t impressive, either. What was touted as the best defense in the league did not look like it against Atlanta’s rushing attack. In the first half alone the Broncos gave up 80 yards on the ground with a 4.6 yard combined average for the Falcons top two running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.

Not only were the Falcons able to run the ball effectively, they were able to do it at will. In the Falcons seven-minute field goal drive late in the second quarter, there was a stretch when the Falcons ran the ball seven of eight plays, all for positive yards.

While the play in the trenches certainly wasn’t the only problem the Broncos had in the loss to the Falcons, it put both the offense and defense behind the eight ball even before the game started.