The Denver Broncos dropped to 3-6 on the season after a second-half collapse against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon to lose 17-10. Injuries and the same third-quarter offensive struggles made their return from the bye week.

Denver Broncos collapse against the Tennessee Titans

The Denver Broncos emphasis on limiting Derrick Henry saw them deploy a unique defensive front in their base package. Jonas Griffith, Alex Singleton, and Josey Jewell were all on field at the same time in the base while Denver went with a heavy front on the defensive line.

Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett embraced a pass-centric approach against the Titans’ top-five ranked run defense and it was evident early in the first half. In the first quarter alone, the Broncos passed 12 times in comparison to four rushing attempts.

Denver’s offense was dealt an early blow by the Tennessee Titans in Sunday’s game after Jerry Jeudy went down on the first play of the game with an ankle injury and was carted back to the locker room. Undrafted rookie wide receiver Jalen Virgil received some snaps on offense in his place alongside Kendall Hinton, and both took advantage of them. Virgil made one of the biggest plays of the day for Denver in the second quarter, hauling in a 66-yard touchdown on 3rd and 6 to give Denver a 7-0 lead. The Broncos on their next drive took a 10-0 lead after Brandon McManus 39-yard field goal.

But they couldn’t take that 10-point lead into the break.

Prior to halftime, the Broncos’ defense surrendered a touchdown to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine that allowed Tennessee to cut Denver’s lead to 10-7 going into the locker room.

The second half proved to be a different story, but the same Broncos from the first half. Denver’s offense struggled to move the ball after penalties set them back. Defensively, the Broncos surrendered the dreaded explosive play they’ve been susceptible to on a 63-yard flea flicker, giving the Titans a 14-10 lead with 5:14 remaining in the third quarter.

Denver’s offense continued to sputter as the dreaded third quarter slump returned from the bye week. Denver’s already banged-up offensive line suffered more injuries on Sunday with starting center Graham Glasgow (shoulder) and offensive tackle Billy Turner (knee) and both players did not return. Rookie center Luke Wattenberg was forced into the lineup and struggled to snap the ball to Russell Wilson who had to retrieve several low snaps on the ground, while also being sacked a total of six times.

Denver had a prime opportunity to inject themselves with new life after the defense recovered a Titans fumble on third down past midfield with 7:34 remaining in the fourth quarter, but once again the offense couldn’t do anything with the football. Denver’s defense bent but did not break late in the fourth quarter, forcing the Titans to settle for a field that extended Tennessee’s lead to 17-10 with just under three minutes left.

The Broncos would have one final attempt to try and drive against the Titans, as they marched downfield to the Titans’ 30-yard line. Facing a 4th down, Wilson’s final pass attempt was intercepted and Tennessee held on to win.

Despite the Broncos holding Derrick Henry to 53 yards rushing, they still lost and dropped to 3-6 on the year. Their focus will now shift to next Sunday’s home matchup against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders.

Broncos news and notes

Broncos inactives vs. Titans
The following players were inactive in Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.
Wide receiver KJ Hamler missed the game due to a hamstring injury. Free safety Justin Simmons missed Sunday’s game due to a knee sprain. Fullback Andrew Beck missed the game due to a hamstring injury. Offensive tackle Cam Fleming was held out with a calf injury. Cornerback Darius Phillips missed Sunday’s game due to illness. Outside linebacker Baron Browning missed due to a hip injury. Running back Marlon Mack and defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike were healthy scratches.

Injury Report
Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (ankle) left Sunday’s game vs. the Titans and did not return after being carted off. Offensive tackle Billy Turner (knee) left Sunday’s game against the Titans in the second quarter and did not return. Center Graham Glasgow (shoulder) left Sunday’s game in the third quarter and did not return. Cornerback K’Waun Williams (knee) left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return.

Penalties and Punts.
In Sunday’s loss, the Broncos had a total of 8 penalties that impacted them for 50 yards. Broncos punter Corliss Waitman punted the football away nine times in Sunday’s loss.