The Broncos lost 27-21 to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night and turned the ball over four times in the first quarter, including three interceptions thrown by Peyton Manning on the Broncos' first three drives. It was an uneven game for Manning, which put the Broncos in a deep hole that they could never fully recover from to win the game. The Broncos would have a late rally as the game came to a close, coming just short of fulfilling their comeback when Julio Jones caught a crossing route pattern on a third-and-five conversion to give the Falcons a first down and the game as the game approached the two-minute-warning.
As a Broncos fan, it was a frustrating night, as the team turned the ball over one too many times and committed 10 penalties for 97 yards, as the offensive line and receivers consistently committed false start penalties amidst the crowd noise at the Georgia Dome. As a Broncos fan, you may be asking yourself, "What positives are there to garner from this loss?". Here are several positives to take from this loss heading into Denver's home game vs. the Texans this Sunday:
- The Broncos lost this game 27-21. The reason why this is a positive is because at two different points in time during the game the Broncos were down by 20 points. At one point, they were down 20-0, at the other point, they were down 27-7. Both times they came back, and eventually made their way to 27-21 before Julio Jones sealed the game for the Falcons with his first down reception.
The Broncos were put in a hole, and they were able to show resiliency. This was a completely different game than their home opener vs. the Steelers, which saw Denver and Pittsburgh exchange blows in a even battle thoughout the night. The Falcons led this game from start to finish, and were in control most of the night.
It isn't a positive that the Broncos turned the ball over four times, or that they were down by 20 points on two seperate occasions, but the Broncos faced their first true adversity on the field in the second game of the season, and now know what it's like to come back from a three possession deficit.
They proved to themselves that they could battle back, and that can only give the team confidence for the rest of the season.
- Peyton Manning. Quite simply put, Manning himself. Manning had a terrible first quarter, and yes, he still has yet to show that he has the deep arm strength to complete long passes in tight coverage, but he rebounded from the worst first quarter of his career to nearly lead the Broncos back from a 20 point deficit.
With each game, Manning will grow more comfortable. Do not expect him to have the game that he had against the Falcons this Sunday when the Texans pay the Broncos a visit.
- Willis McGahee: I thought McGahee looked slow against Pittsburgh in the season opener. He looked unbelievable against the Falcons. Of the entire offense, he was the one bright positive spot throughout the night, running the ball hard and running over defenders as he does best.
McGahee ran the ball 22 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns. His yards per carry was 5.1 yards per carry, and he even had a clutch touchdown run on fourth down for Denver's final touchdown to give the Broncos a six point deficit at 27-21.
If McGahee can continue to run the ball as he did vs. Atlanta, and Manning can play the way that he did vs. Pittsburgh, the possibilities are endless.
- Broncos Defense: They had somewhat of a rough night stopping Matt Ryan and his quartet of receivers in the nickel defensive formation, but all-in-all, held up well considering that the Broncos offense turned the ball over four times in the first quarter.
The pass rush was a concern, as Elvis Dumervil was a non-factor and Matt Ryan had all of the time in the world to throw the football. The Broncos also did give up key conversions on third down, especially over the middle where Joe Mays and Wesley Woodyard were burned in pass coverage.
Despite those negatives, the defense nearly gave the Broncos offense one more drive to win the game, and considering the hole that Manning and Knowshon Moreno put the Broncos in at the beginning of the game, that's more than what people expected at the end of the first quarter.
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