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Remain calm, Broncos fans; all is not lost

Do not overreact

All is not lost for Drew Lock (3) and the Denver Broncos after Monday night's 16-14 defeat at the hands of the Tennessee Titans.
Justin Edmonds | Associated Press

Holy, Gostkowski, that was a bummer of loss for the Denver Broncos.

First off, let us remember that this was only Week 1 of the NFL season, but the Tennessee Titans beating the Broncos, 16-14, still feels like a gut punch.

Again, please don’t jump off the bridge after one game. All we really know for certain about the NFL after one set of games is that the Lions stink and Mitch Trubisky just yet may be the answer for Chicago Bears at quarterback. OK, we’re just joking on the latter.

Gost-Gate

• Before we break down all the minutiae, remember that the Broncos were lucky to be in Monday’s game all the way through it. With Steven Gostkowski missing three field goals and an extra point before hitting the game-winner late, the Titans should have been leading 23-14, rending the late drama moot. (As of last check, Gostkowski hadn’t been cut by the Titans. If he hadn’t made that last field goal, he would have had to walk home to Tennessee.)

Hypotheticals aside, the Broncos have to score more than 14 points in the offensive age to win a football game.

To that end, when the Broncos get down to the red zone, they have to get something out of it. I have absolutely no problem with going for it on fourth-and-goal from the Titans’ 1 during the second quarter. But a shuffle pass in traffic? That was a curious call.

• That isn’t the only time we give low grades to the Broncos for game management. Denver got the ball with a 14-13 lead with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Broncos ran three plays — two passes and one run — using only 51 seconds of the clock.

Hey, Vic Fangio/Pat Shurmur, run the ball three times to eat the clock or, at least, force Tennessee to use its timeouts. Not only would that have given the Titans less time to drive, but it also would have taken the running game out of Tennessee’s play calling.

One also has to question Denver not using their timeouts to save some time for a drive after Gostkowski finally split the uprights. You don’t get to save extra timeouts for next week.

The upside

• Broncos quarterback Drew Lock looked like a kid who was starting only his sixth game. His accuracy was questionable at times, but that’s going to happen.

On the other hand, he has mobility — remember Joe Flacco last year? — and can make some throws. Keep the game plan simple for him as he progresses through this season.

• Wide-receiver Jerry Jeudy? Nice pick, Broncos. The former Alabama wideout did have a big drop — that happens with rookies — but has another gear that will make him a serious weapon. One of the ways of keeping it simple for Lock is calling quick outs to Jeudy.

Then when the Broncos get back Courtland Sutton from injury, good luck to opposing defenses.

• Running-back Phillip Lindsay left the game with turf toe and Melvin Gordon carried it the rest of the way. It’s nice to have depth at that position.

• The defense played well for having lost Von Miller to an injury just a week ago. The unit bottled up Titans running-back Derrick Henry well. The NFL’s leading rusher ran for 116 yards, but it was on 32 carries.

Life without Von will be tough, but the Broncos didn’t start the season by getting torched.

• As always, don’t overdo the conclusions after Week 1. That said, Pittsburgh has to feel heartened by Ben Roethlisberger’s return. He looked more comfortable as the Steelers’ game against the New York Giants progressed. Roethlisberger’s continuing heath can put the Steelers among the AFC’s elite with Baltimore and Kansas City.

First impressions

• New England won Week 1 of the Belichick-Brady divorce. Again, please remain calm. The Patriots beat the Dolphins and the Bucs lost in New Orleans; neither is a surprise.

• Home teams went 8-8 this week. Since the 1970 merger of the AFL and NFL, home teams have won at a 57% clip. Without fans in the stands, this is something to watch.

• Best lead of the week from The Associated Press: “The Washington Football Team played like a group of guys determined to make a name for themselves.”

Week 2’s big games

• Broncos at Steelers: This is a step on the learning curve for Denver. If the Broncos can hang with Pittsburgh, they’ll be fine, returning home to face the Bucs, followed by a road game at the Jets.

• Vikings at Colts: This is two playoff contenders hoping to avoid an 0-2 start.

• Patriots at Seahawks: Pete Carroll, if you have the ball at the 1, you might want to run it.

• Saints at Raiders: Football in Las Vegas debuts. ESPN was calling Allegiant Stadium, “The Death Star.” I like it.


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