In a wild and wacky finish to the 2019 regular season, the Denver Broncos barely managed to stave off the Oakland Raiders, winning 16-15 on a last-second batted pass from DL Shelby Harris.
In quite literally a tale of two halves, Oakland had their way with the Broncos defense by marching up and down the field for the majority of the first half. Denver's defense gave up 251 yards of total offense, including a handful of explosive gains from the Raiders offense.
But the tables turned in the second half, with the Raiders being completely ineffective until their last-minute touchdown drive. Denver mostly dominated the second half on the defensive side of the football, forcing three straight three-and-outs to open.
The Broncos' season is now over, though the outlook of the franchise is most certainly on the rise. Denver has a lot of quality building blocks in place, especially on the offensive side of the football.
With potential franchise QB Drew Lock running the show, Denver has an opportunity to return to the postseason next year. What did we learn from the last game of the season for the Broncos?
A Spectacular Red Zone Defense
Even though the Broncos defense gave up 477 total yards, the biggest takeaway from their performance was that they held the Raiders out of the endzone on four of their five trips into the red zone. It was quite literally a bend-but-don't-break showing, but Denver's defense stood strong with their backs against the wall, as they have all season long.
It's been a constant theme with this Broncos squad for 16 games, where they have lapses at times and let teams stomp their way down the field only to stand their ground inside the 20 yard-line. Despite Hunter Renfrow's nearly game-tying touchdown reception, Denver was spectacular in the red zone today, including a goal-line stand on 4th-&-1 in the second quarter.
Lindsay Deserving of his Place in the Record Books
One of the biggest storylines heading into the game was that Phillip Lindsay only needed 42 rushing yards to break the 1,000-yard mark on the season. He was able to accomplish the feat for the second-straight season to start his career, although it got very close in the fourth quarter.
After Lindsay became the first undrafted player in NFL history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in each of his first two seasons, a couple of poorly blocked plays nearly cost him that prestigious place in the history books.
In the end, it didn't matter. Lindsay finished the year with 1,011 yards on the ground, becoming the fourth Broncos running back to rush for over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, and is the first to do so since Clinton Portis way back in 2003. Kudos to the Colorado Kid.
Attaochu Deserves to Get Paid
After Bradley Chubb went down with a torn ACL earlier this season, GM John Elway chose to bring in former Chargers' second-round LB Jeremiah Attaochu to be a rotational pass rusher for the Broncos defense. Attaochu not only held his own, but showed out in a way that could see him become next year's Shaquil Barrett.
Barrett, a long-time Bronco looking for a chance to start, bet on himself and accepted a low-dollar, prove-it type of contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He took his opportunity and finished the year as the league's leader in sacks this season (19.5).
After finishing with 3.5 sacks (all of which came in the final six games) and a plethora of pressures over the course of his audition with the Broncos, Attaochu could receive a similar opportunity from a team in need of a pass rusher next offseason. It might not be a long term deal with a lot of guaranteed money, but Attaochu proved that he can be a high-level player when given a large role for a defense.
His improvement has been very fun to watch. Maybe the Broncos can get him re-signed.