Atrocious. Putrid. Embarrassing. Disappointing. All of these adjectives are synonymous with the Denver Broncos' performance on Sunday as they dropped their second straight game, falling 37-12 to the Las Vegas Raiders.
It was all those things and more as the Raiders dominated the game from the onset, watching the course of the game unfold exactly like the opening kickoff.
Two steps forward, five steps back.
In their best impression of the Broncos' defense, Vegas was dominant in the second half. With a pair of turnovers setting up short scoring drives, a massive onslaught of pass-rush pressure, and another turnover to seal the deal, the Raiders completely shut down the Broncos' offense. Denver literally had one (1) total yard in the third quarter.
Drew Lock was under constant siege from the Raiders' pass rush, which is incredible considering Las Vegas has been one of the worst teams at rushing the passer to date. Even though Lock was only sacked twice on the stat sheet, the relentless barrage of pressure made it feel like Lock was hit 20 times.
The Raiders ground out over 200 yards on the ground, imposing their will at the point of attack and opening holes. Derek Carr was kept relatively clean in the pocket, and the Broncos had no answer for anything the Raiders threw at them.
What did we learn from this atrocity of a football game? Allow me to articulate three key takeaways.
Lock's 4-INT Game Should Open Everyone's Eyes
When you're under as much pressure as Lock was on Sunday, it's easy to predict severe struggles. But he was awful.
It's like a broken record at this point. Lock falls off his back foot, throws late, misses open receivers, and the Broncos' offense can't sustain drives. Only this week, the opposing defense took advantage of those errant throws.
Three of Lock's four interceptions lie directly at his feet. The first was a major overthrow into triple coverage. The second, Lock zeroed in on Jerry Jeudy in the red zone, missing the safety who was sitting on the slant route right at the goal line.
The third was a play that Lock simply cannot make, as he threw late over the middle and off of his back foot while under immense pressure. Those are the same mistakes he's made on a consistent basis all season long. Any improvement has been marginal — if there's any progress at all — and it's getting stale to watch.
Lock's good flashes did not outweigh the consistent bad, and once again the Broncos made a bad defense look like world-beaters. He finished the game 23-of-47 (48.9%) for 257 yards and a garbage-time touchdown. Not good enough.
It continues to raise the question that the Broncos desperately need an answer to. Is Lock the right quarterback for this franchise?
Because based on what we saw on Sunday, the answer appears to be a clear and resounding 'no'.
Broncos' D-Line Capitulates
Heading into the game, everybody knew that the Raiders were going to lean on their running game. Sporting the league's third-ranked running back in Josh Jacobs, the ground game is the juice that makes the Raiders' offense flow.
What we didn't know was that the Raiders' rushing attack was going to bury the Broncos' defensive line at the point of attack.
For the second game this season, the Broncos allowed north of 200 rushing yards, highlighted by Jacobs' 112 yards and two touchdowns. Ex-Bronco Devontae Booker gashed the defense for a pair of scores as well.
With Mike Purcell and Jurrell Casey out for the remainder of the season and Shelby Harris missing Week 10 due to COVID-19, the Broncos' interior defensive line was down all three day-one starters, and it definitely showed.
While Dre'Mont Jones and DeShawn Williams played well upfront upon first glance, the rest of the Broncos' interior defenders were tossed around like rag dolls. The Raiders averaged 5.0 yards per carry as a team, and Carr wasn't sacked. In fact, he was barely even pressured for the majority of the game.
The return of Harris should help a lot, but the rest of the rotation has to start playing better. Period.
Callahan the Lone Bright Spot Defensively
There isn't a lot of positive to take away from a beatdown like that, but the one overwhelming positive was Bryce Callahan, who made a few incredible plays in coverage.
It wasn't always pretty, though, as Callahan got lucky on one play where he was absolutely torched, watching tight end Darren Waller drop what was a surefire touchdown pass down the left sideline.
Regardless, Callahan broke up a couple of passes, while making some quality open-field tackles in run support that shut down a few Raiders' drives. He was impressive, especially in the first half, and made a big difference for the Broncos' defense.