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Broncos surrender late lead in 16-14 loss to Titans

In an ending that was eerily reminiscent of so many losses last season, the Broncos watched the Titans drive 83 yards on 12 plays, capped off by Stephen Gostkowski’s 25-yard field goal, as Tennessee rallied to beat Denver 16-14 in the season opener on Monday Night Football at Empower Field.

When it was over, it added up to an ugly debut for the Broncos in Vic Fangio’s second season at the helm that included:

  • Injuries to running back Philip Lindsay (toe) and cornerback A.J. Bouye (shoulder).
  • A lost fumble by running back Melvin Gordon and two fumbled snaps by quarterback Drew Lock, though Denver did recover both of those.
  • Two key drops by rookie receiver Jerry Jeudy.
  • A failed fourth-and-goal play by the offense that resulted in Denver coming away with zero points despite driving down to the Tennessee 1-yard line.
  • The defense’s inability to stop a late drive and surrender the lead.
  • Fangio’s poor clock management which left the Broncos with just 17 seconds when they got the ball back trailing 16-14. They finished the game with two timeouts remaining … maybe Fangio thinks they carry over to next week.

Highlights: Titans 16, Broncos 14

What they had to say

Denver safety Justin Simmons had this to say of the Broncos defense failing to stop the Titans when it mattered most:

“The drives prior, we did a good job keeping them (backed up and punting), and they had the ball back down there again and as a defense, you have to be able to keep them down there. We got to be better.” 

On the failed fourth-and-goal play Lock shoveled the ball to tight end Jake Butt who was then stopped short of the end zone. Did Fangio regret the decision to forgo the three points in a game Denver lost by two? He said this afterward:

“I had no second thoughts there.”

Apparently not.

As for Fangio’s decision not to use his timeouts during the Titans’ final drive, he said part of it was due to the fact that Gostkowski had missed three field goals and an extra point so far in the game.

“It was two-fold. One, their field goal kicker obviously (had) been having his problems so I didn’t want to extend the drive where they could get closer.
Number two, we would have used a time out, but we got the running back out of bounds. We would have used a second time out, but they threw an incompletion which would have given us one when we got the ball back so that was part of the thinking there.”

Fangio said.

As it turned out the game-winning field goal was a 25-yarder, so not well played in saving them to prevent Tennessee from getting closer. And Fangio’s logic that he was ready to use them, but the situation didn’t allow him to makes no sense. He literally said he didn’t want to call any, so which is it?

Extra points

  • TheDNVR.com’s Zac Stevens did a great job recapping and showing how poor Fangio’s clock management at the end of the game was.
  • Andrew Mason at DNVR detailed all the other ways Denver blew it vs. Tennessee.
  • The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla too ripped Fangio’s late-game abilities and also wondered if 75,000 fans could have helped the Broncos.
  • Kyle Newman of The Post detailed Jeudy’s first night in the NFL. Jeudy finished with four catches for 56 yards, but also had two key drops.
  • My final thoughts: It’s just one of 16 games, but the Broncos looked just like they did last year: Unable to score on offense and a solid defense that crumbles at the end. Then you have Gordon fumbling, which was a major concern when Denver signed him this offseason. And add in injuries to Lindsay and Bouye coupled with upcoming games against Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay and it feels like this season could be sunk before the calendar hits October.

2020 Broncos results and schedule

DateResult
Mon., Sept. 14Titans 16, Broncos 14Box score
Broncos overall record: 0-1
WKDateOpponentTime (MT)Ch.
2Sun. S20at Pittsburgh11 a.m.CBS
3Sun. S27vs. Tampa Bay2:25 p.m.FOX
4Thu. O1at N.Y. Jets6:20 p.m.NFL
5Sun. O11at New England11 a.m.CBS
6Sun. O18vs. Miami2:05 p.m.CBS
7Sun. O25vs. Kansas City2:25 p..CBS
8BYE
9Sun. N8at Atlanta11 a.m.CBS
10Sun. N15at Las Vegas2:05 p.m.CBS
11Sun. N22vs. L.A. Chargers2:05 p.m.CBS
12Sun. N29vs. New Orleans2:05 p.m.FOX
13Sun. D6at Kansas City6:20 p.m.NBC
14Sun. D13at Carolina11 a.m.CBS
15Sun. D20vs. BuffaloTBDTBD
16Sun. D27at L.A. ChargersTBDTBD
17Sun. J3vs. Las Vegas2:25 p.m.CBS

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Porter, Murray shine in Nuggets’ final scrimmage

Nuggets

Michael Porter Jr. returned to action during Denver’s final scrimmage on Monday night and in doing so quickly made Nuggets fans remember what they were so excited about earlier this season. Porter scored 19 points (8-of-13 shooting) and grabbed seven rebounds in just 20 minutes of action.

Another positive development for Denver was point guard Jamal Murray’s return as well. Murray added 23 points (8-of-12) in 25 minutes. The fact that the Nuggets lost 114-110 to Orlando was inconsequential.

Porter, who was dealing with a sprained ankle before the shutdown, said he’s back to full health, both physically and mentally.

“I feel like I’m in a great headspace. I know we got a lot of good players, but my goal, right now, I’m not coming in here just trying to blend in with the team. I’m trying to do my part to help this team win a championship. I think I can be a big part of that.”

Michael Porter Jr.

The next time the Nuggets take the court the game will count again as they face Miami on Saturday (11 a.m., ESPN).

Rockies

The Denver Post‘s Patrick Saunders wrote today about how Colorado’s bullpen has been solid after the season’s first three games. He also added that it’s way too early to read too much into things though.

My thoughts: I couldn’t agree with Patrick more. He does an excellent job of pointing out that although Rockies relievers allowed just one run in 9 2/3 innings, they were in enough trouble that it’s hard to imagine them getting out of it had the games been at Coors Field.

He also pointed out that one of Colorado’s best relievers, Scott Oberg, will miss Friday’s home opener with a sore back and when he’ll return is yet unknown.

  • Next up for Colorado is a quick two-game series in Oakland against the A’s starting tonight (7:40 p.m., AT&T SportsNet, 850 AM). Antonio Senzatela will start for the Rockies tonight and Germán Márquez is scheduled to pitch on Wednesday (1:40 p.m.).
  • Colorado added first base prospect Michael Toglia to its 2020 player pool, while left-handed reliever Tim Collins withdrew from Colorado’s satellite camp and will not pitch this season.
    Toglia was the Rockies first-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.
  • Former Rockies reliever Bryan Shaw blamed his struggles in Colorado on Coors Field.

“I got there and the sliders didn’t work. It didn’t matter what we did. We tried to tinker with it. We tried to change it. We tried to do different stuff and it just basically fell by the wayside.”

Bryan Shaw to The Seattle Times

Avalanche

Things are ramping up quickly as the NHL gets ready for its restart. The Avalanche arrived in Edmonton, host city for the Western Conference playoffs, on Sunday and had their first practice on Monday.

Colorado head coach Jared Bednar is impressed with the setup so far.

“Every team has their own players lounge/lunch/dinner room. We’ve been in there a couple times and there are some commons areas as well, to be able to go hang out and mingle. It is a really nice setup. And being right across the rink from where you’re (going to be) playing is great.”

Jared Bednar via Zoom

Colorado has an exhibition game against Minnesota on Wednesday (12:30 p.m., Altitude) before opening up round-robin play on Sunday vs. St. Louis (4:30 p.m.).

Broncos

The Broncos cornerbacks and safeties were front and center as both The Denver Post and TheDNVR.com wrote about them. And with good reason, there’s a lot of questions when it comes to the Broncos secondary.

My thoughts: Overall I like what Denver did this offseason. It’ll be weird seeing Chris Harris in a Chargers jersey this season, but it was the right move to make. He’d lost a step or two and just wasn’t the same player he was during most of his time in Denver.

The trade for A.J. Bouye was a nice addition and he likely will be a solid upgrade over Harris. The big question is, what will the Broncos get from Bryce Callahan this season? I’m cautiously optimistic that his foot injury will be behind him and he’ll be able to fill a big hole at cornerback.

Unfortunately it’s also highly possible he won’t be able to bounce back and we’ll look back on that signing as one of the worst in Broncos’ history.

  • Denver cut eight players on Monday and still must release two more today. Waived were: QB Riley Neal, RB Khalfani Muhammad, WR Kelvin McKnight, LB Tre’ Crawford, OL Nico Falah and DBs Kahani Smith and Shakial Taylor. DE Joel Heath was released.
  • TheAthletic.com’s Nick Kosmider took a stab at predicting the Broncos opening 53-man roster.
  • Meanwhile, The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla already is wondering if we’re even going to have an NFL season after the problems baseball is having after its opening weekend.
  • TheAthletic.com released its Quarterback Tiers Rankings. Quarterbacks are ranked by 50 coaches and evaluators and end up in one of five different tiers.
    Where did Denver’s Drew Lock end up? That would be the fourth tier, in a tie for 30th with Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew. There were only 35 QBs who were on the list. However, one of the 50 voters did rank Lock in the second tier.

Sports betting

Last week Wildwood Casino became the first casino to open a retail sportsbook in Cripple Creek.