What was supposed to be an easy game that the Broncos could use to push within striking distance of the AFC West lead quickly became a embarrassing, slow-motion nightmare that saw the Denver Broncos crushed by the formerly win-less New York Giants, 23-10, in front of a home crowd at Mile High Stadium.
Despite their star-studded defensive lineup, the New York Giants entered the game with the 29th-ranked rush defense, averaging 139 rushing yards allowed per game. By contrast, the Broncos appeared to have an edge in the match-up, ranking fourth in the NFL with 143 yards a game on the ground. Unfortunately, the Broncos were quickly overwhelmed by the Giants’ defense, as they finished the game with a measly 36 rushing yards.
Running backs C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles, who had started off the season as on the best one-two punches in the league, found little to no room to run, as the duo averaged only 2.6 yards per carry.
After abandoning the run to generate any momentum on offense, the Broncos soon found themselves in a worse position offensively, relying on the arm of quarterback Trevor Siemian behind shaky pass protection and a fierce Giants pass rush. Siemian was constantly under duress throughout the game, being sacked a total of four times.
When he wasn’t being put on the ground, Siemian was constantly running for his life from a bevy of Giants defenders.
After a costly pick-six thrown by Siemian, which put the Broncos down 20-3, the team had little choice but to continue throwing the ball in an attempt to narrow the Giants’ lead.
The offensive line’s poor performance was not aided by injuries sustained along the offensive line. Already without tackle Donald Stephenson, the Broncos lost starting right tackle Menelik Watson early in the second half.
Both tackles struggled all night, as Giants’ edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul registered three sacks lone, tormenting Siemian seemingly every time he dropped back to pass.
While the Giants’ other edge rushers had their way with the Broncos’ tackles all night, the interior pass rush was too much for right guard Ronald Leary and rotating left guards Max Garcia and Allen Barbre.
The offensive line also struggled with costly penalties, including a personal foul against Leary and a cringe-worthy, unnecessary hold by rookie left tackle Garett Bolles, both of which pushed the Broncos deeper into their own territory.
It’s not exactly breaking news that the Broncos’ offensive line has been the most questionable position group on the team, but the Sunday’s dismal performance against the Giants has to have the team concerned about whether it can compete in an AFC West loaded with elite pass rushers.
The Broncos simply cannot afford to continue a trend of putting the fate of a game on the Siemian’s shoulders while the pass-blocking continues to struggle. The Broncos have proven that the offensive line can provide top-10 level play — on the ground, at least — as evidenced by the Broncos’ rushing numbers entering the game. They will need to find a way to get back to running the ball effectively, because the team has yet to prove they can protect Siemian.
Facing a Giants team missing its three best wide receivers, the Broncos were not only expected to win the game, but to make a statement about being a dominant team in the NFL. Sadly, neither of those events transpired, leaving fans wondering where the team is headed sitting at 3-2 on the season. After a devastating loss to a win-less team at home, it’s time for the Broncos to regroup and steer their season back in a positive direction.