The Broncos-Panthers game on Sunday was quite a wild one and today we’re going to review it. What happened in the game? Why did Denver win? Who was most impactful? Well, we will address all these questions as well as individual game performances, analysis, and what to expect in the future. Let’s get right into it!
THE BEST DENVER PERFORMANCES
What happened in the game? Let’s look at some facts, statistics, and individual performances. First of all, our most notable performance was quarterback, Drew Lock. With all the doubt, questioning, and anger going towards Lock, this game absolutely needed to be an above-average performance for him granted, he was going up against a lackluster Carolina Panthers’ defense. To my expectations, Lock delivered. Throwing for 280 passing yards and 4 touchdowns, he led the Broncos to a 32-27 victory over the Panthers. He also had a 77.8 completion percentage (season-high), 10.4 yards per completion (season-high), and a 149.5 rating (season-high). This was arguably the best game of 2020 for Drew Lock. It was necessary for him to have a big game and he lived up to expectations. Another performance worth noting would be rookie wide receiver out of Penn State, K.J. Hamler. He had 86 receiving yards (season-high) on 2 catches which gives him 43 yards per reception on the game (season-high). He also had a touchdown on both of his touchdowns which would mean he had 2 receiving touchdowns (season-high). A career game for both Drew Lock and K.J. Hamler took place on Sunday. But, what about on defense? None of Denver’s defensive stats completely SHOCKED anyone, but there is one performance that I’d like to mention. That performance would be recently signed defensive back, Will Parks. Parks was drafted by Denver in 2016 and played with them until 2019 when he became a free agent. In the offseason of this year, he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles (his hometown team). However, they cut him a few weeks ago allowing any team to sign him. Denver jumped on the opportunity and brought him back. In his first game back in a Denver uniform, he made 6 tackles (all solo tackles) and a sack (2nd career sack). It wasn’t a terribly noteworthy performance for Parks, but I thought it was nice to see him back to his impactive form in Denver. We also got to see an electrifying 83-yard punt return touchdown from Diontae Spencer, who had been sitting out the past few games on the COVID-19/Reserve List. Great to see him back in action and it was amazing to see Spencer get his first touchdown in the National Football League.
DENVER LOSES 2 MORE CORNERBACKS
With the good comes the bad and now we’re going to go over that. First, the most significant negative point of the game was the injuries to cornerbacks, Duke Dawson and Kevin Toliver. Sources revealed that the two both tore their ACLs and will miss the remainder of the season. Prior to these injuries, Denver had already lost cornerbacks, A.J. Bouye (suspension), Bryce Callahan (foot injury), and Essang Bassey (torn ACL). Now they are down 5 cornerbacks that were on the active roster. Their starting cornerback is now rookie out of Iowa, Michael Ojemudia, who has had his ups and downs. My point is, Denver is going to find it very hard to win games with a rookie cornerback guarding top receivers. The next negative point of the game that I want to go over is the lack of defense towards the end of the game. Denver had a major lead; at one point they were up by 15 in the 3rd quarter off of a K.J. Hamler touchdown. In a matter of 15 minutes, the margin was 5. This can’t keep happening for Denver if they want to beat teams like the Bills or the Raiders. I completely understand all of the injuries that have destroyed the defense and all, but the guys that are playing need to step up in this time of need. There was a lot of blown coverage towards the end and a lot of completed passes for over 10 yards. Panthers quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, is fond of throwing short passes, screens, and check-downs, so for Denver to allow as much as they did is quite insulting.
WHY DID THE PANTHERS LOSE?
This is a simple question with a simple answer: a lack of aggressiveness. Towards the end, their team was finally picking up speed and they were driving down the field. This is mainly because Bridgewater was throwing deeper passes and he was putting more trust into his receivers. The key for Carolina going forward is picking up the speed early and playing aggressively especially because their defense is quite lackluster and can’t totally pick up on the offense’s slack.
WHY DID THE BRONCOS WIN?
Denver simply played better in the game. Drew Lock played outstandingly and performed at the high level that we know he can. We were able to pick on the defense with K.J.’s deep routes and touchdowns. The receivers were open a lot. Despite the close outcome, I would deem the defense with a solid game here. They had 4 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, 3 passes defended, and held the Panthers leading rusher (Mike Davis) to 51 rushing yards. Kicker, Brandon McManus, definitely could have done much better as he missed 2 extra points, but nonetheless, the Broncos got the victory. Despite, the receiver core, the injuries, the illnesses, etc., Denver got the win and that’s what counts!
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DENVER GOING FORWARD.
Denver’s next game is on Saturday, December 19th, in a matchup home against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills are dangerous coming off a win at home against the now 11-2 Pittsburgh Steelers. Some of their biggest threats include quarterback Josh Allen, wide receiver, Stefon Diggs, and cornerback Tre’Davious White. It’s going to be a tough game to win, but Denver could pull it off. Heck, they almost did it against Kansas City. So, Mr. Broncos Dominion, what’s the gameplan? How do we beat them? Simple, RUN THE BALL! The Bills’ secondary and pass defense are a MASSIVE upgrade from the Panthers’ secondary and pass defense. Drew Lock isn’t going to get away with some of the throws he had on Sunday. He’s going to need to be much more cautious and take fewer risks. I still, however, like taking a few deep shots to K.J. Hamler on double move routes. Jerry Jeudy definitely needs to get the ball more if we want a chance to win. All season, he’s been quiet and without too many passes coming his way. That needs to end. Jeudy is such a lethal weapon that Denver is not utilizing. Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay will need to step up big time as we will probably lean towards them to get our offense going. On the defensive side, pressuring Josh Allen is key. He can’t operate terribly well under pressure despite his mobile abilities, so if guys like Bradley Chubb and Shelby Harris can get in there and put pressure on him, Denver is in a golden situation. It’s going to be very hard to guard an elite receiver like Stefon Diggs and a speedy guy like Cole Beasley when the best cornerback on your depth chart is a 3rd round rookie. The safeties, Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, are going to have a big role in the upcoming game. I believe that the Bills will try to take advantage of the lack of cornerbacks that Denver possesses, and they will go pass-heavy. The secondary definitely needs to practice and prepare for this scenario. Overall, it’s going to be a tough game coming on Saturday and Denver will need a lot of preparation, but I think that they can pull off the win at Mile High Stadium.