If you want to describe the weather at Empower Field on Sunday, or the Denver Broncos' performance as a whole, there are only two words necessary.
With the wind whipping, temperatures dipping close to single digits and snow flying for the majority of the game, the Broncos dropped their sixth straight game at home to the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 43-16.
Once again, critical errors cost the Broncos a chance at a victory. Despite the final score indicating a blowout, the Chiefs were granted 17 points off of turnovers as well as 14 points off of costly special teams gaffes.
Let's be honest here. Denver's defense held the Chiefs in check offensively for the most part. Patrick Mahomes only passed for 200 yards and one touchdown. The Chiefs' explosive offense was limited to 286 total yards.
There's much more to the story of this game, and much of it stems from self-inflicted wounds on Denver's part rather than the Chiefs imposing their will.
What did we learn from today's brutal loss? Here are my key takeaways.
5 Turnovers = Blowout Loss | The Math Adds Up
If you lose the turnover battle, more often than not you will lose the game, especially against elite offensive teams like the Chiefs.
Denver turned the ball over five total times, if you include the turnover on downs, three of which led to 17 total points for the Chiefs. The aforementioned pick-six, as well as a bobbled pass by rookie wideout KJ Hamler, led to 14 points for Kansas City. A botched flea-flicker attempt, where Melvin Gordon tossed back the ball over Drew Lock's outstretched arms, led to another Chiefs' field goal.
Luckily, the Denver defense was able to stave off another fumble by Gordon to keep the final score from being any worse than what it was.
Denver's Offense Flows Through Lindsay
It was apparent last week against the New England Patriots, and was once again prevalent this week against the Chiefs; this Broncos offense thrives when Phillip Lindsay is carrying the football.
But after Lindsay was knocked out of the game in the first half with a concussion, the Broncos were left searching for answers.
Denver was able to gash the Chiefs defense at will in the running game with Lindsay's quickness and vision behind several misdirection plays led by pulling offensive linemen. He had multiple runs over 10 yards, and the offense was flowing easily.
When Lindsay left the game with 79 yards on nine carries, you could see the lack of burst from Gordon and Royce Freeman, as well as the lack of explosion from the Broncos' offense as a whole. Not that the passing game was doing much anyway. Without Lindsay in the game plan, the Broncos offense' is toothless.
Special Teams Strikes Again
If I told you that the Broncos special teams cost them a game, would you be surprised?
While it may not have been the largest contributing factor to the final score, Denver's third phase was a major detriment to yet another loss.
After a second-quarter field goal by McManus, which narrowed the score to 17-9, Byron Pringle returned the ensuing kickoff 102-yards for a touchdown.
The question to ask here is, why in the world does that ball land in the field of play to begin with?
McManus has one of the strongest legs in the league, yet special teams coordinator Tom McMahon continues to try to play the coverage game, opting for his kicker to take a three-step approach when kicking off.
With a blustery wind in his face, McManus placed the ball a couple of yards in the end zone, allowing Pringle a chance to bring it out. From there, it turned into yet another explosive return against a beleaguered coverage unit.
After that and down multiple scores, McMahon and head coach Vic Fangio opted for an attempt at an onside kick, which was recovered and returned by the Chiefs 21 yards to the Broncos' own 21-yard line. With another short field behind the defense, Kansas City put another touchdown on the board.
Lock Leaves Questions Swirling
There will be plenty of excuses thrown around, and there will be countless explanations as to why, but there is one thing fans will be asking themselves following another frustrating offensive performance.
Is Drew Lock the answer at the quarterback position?
Despite the inclement weather, injuries to his skill position players and the catastrophic drops at times, there is a lot to be said about the plays that were left on the field in the passing game.
Once again, Lock was erratic with his accuracy. His footwork was a complete mess, his reads were a half-second slow, and there were a few times that he left you scratching your head as to what he was seeing in front of him.
We all know that Lock wants to look for the big play, looking for that downfield shot to stretch the field vertically.
But in so doing on Sunday, he missed several open defenders underneath that could have resulted in first downs or explosive gains. He was locking into a specific read, rather than taking what the defense gave him.
One of the Broncos' objectives of this season was to figure out if Lock is the quarterback of the future. And his performance thus far, limited as it has been due to yet another injury, has been extremely lackluster.
When you see guys like Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Kyler Murray light up the stat sheet and keep their tepid supporting casts competitive, it's easy to question whether Lock truly is the answer.
It's not time to pull the plug just yet, but some fans are suppressing the urge to stop the hand reaching towards the extension cord.