On a night when Denver Broncos legends Pat Bowlen and Champ Bailey were honored at the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, the Broncos won in true comeback fashion against the Atlanta Falcons in the opening game of the NFL preseason.
Denver scored with 1:26 left in the fourth quarter to win 14-10, with Brett Rypien hitting sixth-round draft pick Juwann Winfree in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown on 4th-and-14. Winfree made the acrobatic, bobbling, tipped ball catch, and managed to keep his toes in bounds to win the game.
Only a handful of starters played the opening series or two and then it was backups and the rest of the depth chart from there on out. Standout performers were running back Khalfani Muhammad and fourth-round draft pick Dre’Mont Jones. Muhammad had seven carries for 50 yards and a touchdown (7.1 yards per carry) to go along with four receptions for 24 yards. Dre’Mont Jones had three tackles, one for loss, and four quarterback pressures including three QB hits. Jones was constantly in the backfield on obvious passing plays as well.
Penalties, dropped balls, muffed punts and everything else that could go wrong on the football field were on full display by both teams, but getting the victory makes learning these lessons much easier. First-year head coach Vic Fangio showed heart and strength as he coached from the sideline the entire game after spending a few hours earlier in the day at the hospital with kidney stones. The first game of the year is expected to be a sloppy one, but the Broncos definitely have a bunch of things to work on before they are regular-season ready.
Below were some of the standout and learning opportunities of the game:
– Brendan Langley had a good opening kick return.
– Juwann Winfree dropped a sure first down from Kevin Hogan on third down in the first quarter.
– Adam Gotsis gets a bat-down on the first series at the line of scrimmage.
– Su’a Cravens knifes through the line for a five-yard loss on second down.
– Holland had an offside penalty, giving the Falcons another shot at 3rd down.
– Kelvin McKnight got an 18-yard punt return on the opening punt, which would prove to be the only good one of the night.
– Noah Fant had a bad drop on Denver’s second possession, on a perfectly-placed ball right on his hands.
– Next play, Fant picks up the first down on an out route
– Brendan Langley and Fred Brown had big catches from Hogan on the touchdown drive
– The offensive line provided Hogan with a clean pocket and lots of time on the touchdown drive
– Khalfani Muhammad gets a touchdown run on the second drive.
– Malik Reed made a big tackle for loss (TFL) on the third series.
– CB Horace Richardson had a three-yard TFL on a screen plan sniff out, well-read and good reaction time displayed.
– Devante Bausby had a pass breakup on a would-be first down on third down, fought through the hands and jarred the ball loose.
– Branden Langley muffed the second punt and gave the ball back to Atlanta.
– Alexander Johnson sniffed out and made the play on a screen, TFL of six yards.
– Malik Reed had a 10-yard sack around Logan Paulson to end the first quarter.
– Drew Lock overthrew an open Fant on a deep ball, then almost throw a bad interception that was dropped by the CB.
– Lock overthrew a wide-open Khalfani down the sideline by a hair on a would-be touchdown.
– Lock ran for a seven-yard scramble first down after the overthrow
– Lock was sacked on back-to-back plays for not getting rid of the ball, one on a two-step drop and the second on a five-step drop.
– Broncos offense wasn’t able to move the ball off of the seven-yard line, then punted to the Falcons with 1:30 left in the half. The defense couldn’t hold up, and the score became 7-7 at half.
– Khalfani Muhammad just seems to be a big explosive play waiting at all times, he’s really fast and reads the field well.
– CB Trey Johnson got an interception off of Matt Schaub.
– Dre’Mont Jones got a sack at the end of the game after harassing the QB for the better part of the final three series.
– Brett Rypien throws a TD to Kelvin McKnight to take the lead, but it was called back on a holding call.
– Next play, Rypien throws a 14-yard TD on 4th-and-14 to Juwaan Winfree on a really crafty catch off a well-defended tipped ball.
– Dre’Mont Jones made a bunch of plays and really showed why he was a fourth-round draft pick.
– Branden McManus was perfect on PATs and Colby Wadman had 9 punts for 417 yards and helped win this game by routinely flipping the field.