Denver Broncos suffer road loss vs. Buffalo Bills in second preseason game

NFL: Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills
Aug 20, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Denver Broncos running back Mike Boone (26) is tackled by Buffalo Bills running back Duke Johnson (22) in the second quarter of a pre-season game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos were on the receiving end of a lopsided loss in Saturday’s action against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2 of the NFL preseason.

Injuries, missed tackles, lapses in coverage, and various breakdowns impacted the outcome.

Josh Johnson starts vs Buffalo Bills

The Broncos did not play Russell Wilson in the preseason for the second consecutive week.

Josh Johnson received his second consecutive start on Saturday against the Buffalo Bills.

The Bills’ defense played most of their starters to open up the game except Von Miller, Jordan Poyer, and Micah Hyde.

Johnson helped lead the Broncos to a 3-0 lead early in the game, with a 12-play, 64-yard drive. 

However, the Bills starting defense adjusted on their second series, limiting Denver to 5 plays and -2 yards on the drive.

Johnson finished the day 8 of 16 passing for 70 yards.

The Broncos went into halftime with a 28-6 deficit and 91 total net yards of offense.

Brett Rypien throws wrinkle in QB competition

Brett Rypien would start the second half for the Broncos at quarterback.

The offense began to move the ball once Rypien entered the game.

Denver’s first touchdown of the game came in the fourth quarter when Rypien found tight end Eric Saubert wide open in the back of the endzone.

Rypien started the game 11 of 14 passing for 113 yards and a touchdown pass.

He’d finish the game 22 of 26 passing for 191 yards and the sole touchdown pass to Saubert.

The Broncos could look to start Rypien this week against the Minnesota Vikings in what could decide who will backup Russell Wilson this season.

Denver Broncos backups vs Bills offensive starters

Denver’s second-team defense faced the tough task of going against Josh Allen and the Bills’ starting offense.

Buffalo’s offense gashed Denver’s defense on a 6-play, 70-yard drive that took them only 3:24 to drive down the field to score.

Denver’s defense had several breakdowns on their first drive, with several missed tackles.

Allen had too much time in the pocket, resetting on a throw to Gabriel Davis who hauled in a 28-yard touchdown pass.

That was enough in the eyes of the Bills coaching staff as former Bronco Case Keenum took over the very next series.

Denver’s defense struggles with missed tackles and coverage gaps

Missed tackles and lapses in coverage allowed the Bills to drive down the field with ease.

In the first half alone, the Broncos surrendered 333 total yards to the Bills’ offense.

However, the Broncos defensively appeared to stay in their base look, avoiding revealing disguise looks and stunt packages they plan to run in the regular season.

Coverage-wise, Denver played mostly off-ball coverage where the secondary is responsible for protecting deep and rallying short.

Denver’s interior defensive line struggled to get off blocks consistently in Saturday’s loss.

At linebacker, the Broncos second-level players missed several tackles and had various plays where they struggled shedding blocks from Buffalo’s offensive line.

The Bills’ offensive onslaught continued in the second half.

Buffalo’s first six drives of the game resulted in six touchdowns.

Denver forced Buffalo to punt for the first time of the game midway through the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately, the Broncos defense surrendered over 511 yards on the day, allowing nearly 9.3 yards per play to the Bills offense.

For Ejiro Evero, he and his defensive staff will go back and watch the tape this week to see where things went wrong, what went well, and how they can adjust going forward.

Denver Broncos news and notes

During Saturday’s warmups, Broncos punter Sam Martin injured his ankle and did not play against the Bills.

Corliss Waitman took over duties for the day, punting twice for a total of 104 yards for an average of 52.0 yards per punt including a game-long 63-yard punt.

This will be an interesting storyline to follow as Denver will be forced to trim the roster from 85 to 80 on Aug. 23 by 4:00 PM ET.

Newly acquired linebacker Joe Schobert saw his first action as Bronco, playing the second half with the third team defense.

One bright spot for the Broncos during Saturday’s action was Denver’s kick-return unit. 

Montrell Washington had a flashy 35-yard return.

Undrafted rookie Jalen Virgil saw action in the return game, accounting for a 30-yard return.

Mike Boone would field one kick return and would take it 27 yards past the 30-yard line.

Broncos kicker Brandon McManus was 3/3 on the day including nailing a 55-yard field goal.

Denver Broncos injury report from Saturday’s game

Outside linebacker Malik Reed (eye): did not return.

Cornerback Michael Ojemudia (forearm): did not return.

Punter Sam Martin (ankle): did not play in Saturday’s game.

Offensive lineman Casey Tucker (foot): did not return.

The Broncos will be back on the practice field this week ahead of their preseason finale against the Minnesota Vikings.

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