Drew Lock’s NFL career didn’t start like he wanted, landing on the Injured Reserve in preseason, but he’s come alive late in Denver’s dead season.

Yes, he injured that thumb and was placed on the IR, but, Broncos coaches took their time in getting him onto the field. Both, in practice, and for games, waiting until Week 13 to give their rookie a start.

Speaking of, Lock was merely pedestrian in his first game, a big win over the Los Angeles Chargers last week. But he showed that “it” factor in the dominant win over the 8-4 Houston Texans on Sunday.

He was wheelin’ and dealin’, slingin’ and smilin’. Lock straight-up balled out.

Everything started out quickly for Lock as he connected with fellow rookie tight end Noah Fant down the right sideline for 48 yards on the first play of the game. The Broncos’ quarterback locked-in on his tight ends, finding Andrew Beck for a 29-yard gain on that same drive. Then, his accuracy was perfect on the throw to a covered Fant in the end zone for the 7-0 lead.

That was only the beginning, though.

He found Tim Patrick down the left sideline and dropped the ball in beautifully, over one defender and into the receiver’s hands before the safety could force an incompletion. Lock also did a great job of connecting with players out of the backfield, like the 25-yard run-and-catch by Devontae Booker, and the short touchdown pass to Royce Freeman.

Once again, he gave the tight ends some love on Jeff Heuerman’s wide-open touchdown. And he continued to show great touch on a slant to Courtland Sutton in the red zone and Lock dropped his arm angle multiple times, showing off his throwing versatility.

In the first half, Lock was nearly perfect. He went 16-19 for 235 yards and had three touchdowns, which was enough for a 157.8 quarterback rating (perfect is 158.3). That was the second-best first half in Broncos history behind a performance by John Elway in 1998.

He even showed off his legs, running for multiple first downs on a drive in the third quarter. The rookie also utilized his mobility by rolling out and completing passes on the run, making him all the more difficult to defend.

Of course, it wasn’t all perfect for Lock. On that same third quarter drive that he kept alive with his feet, Lock stared down his receiver Sutton and threw an interception deep in Houston territory. That was, without a doubt, a rookie mistake. And, really, the only egregious error in an otherwise otherworldly game.

Lock played so well, it makes one wonder why the coaches — Rich Scangarello and Vic Fangio — made him wait to be activated until last week and wait to play, too.

Through a mere two games, the jury is still clearly out on whether or not Lock can or will be the quarterback of the future for Denver. But, the way he looked on Sunday, Lock looks like he could be that guy.

When it was all said and done Sunday, Lock set an NFL record. He became the first-ever NFL quarterback to rack up 300 yards and three touchdowns in his first road start. He also became only the third Broncos QB (Elway and Gary Kubiak) to win his first two starts as a rookie. (Lock’s final numbers: 22-of-27 for 309 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT.)

So, why, if he actually is the quarterback of the future, didn’t Denver start him in Weeks 10 or 12? Instead, the Broncos coaches trotted out Brandon Allen, who has a chance to be a solid backup in the NFL, and that’s all fine and dandy.

But, those same coaches — Scangarello the “QB whisperer” especially — have to know their special rookie needs as many reps as possible this year to give the Broncos a chance at finally making the playoffs again next year. Denver could have activated him off IR and allowed him to start practicing as early as Week 6, though he likely wasn’t healthy enough. Then, the weeks kept passing by, leading fans to wonder if Lock would ever be activated this year.

While Lock was nearly perfect in the first half on Sunday, and even though he wears a wrist band which has a limited “menu” of plays, the rookie looked confused multiple times on the play-call and had to burn a timeout, once. And then there was that interception, and later, a sack which ended a drive.

All young quarterbacks make mistakes, the point is to get those mistakes out of his system, to put them on tape and have him learn from them immediately in order to “win from now on” as John Elway has stated is the goal of the Broncos.

If Denver misses the playoffs next year due to early-season mistakes from Lock, the ones responsible will be Fangio and Scangarello. Of course, that’s in the somewhat distant future; let’s just enjoy the present and Lock’s ludicrously good play on Sunday.