In defeat, Joe Flacco accomplishes two rare QB feats for Broncos

Chad Jensen

Joe Flacco made his Denver Broncos debut on Monday night vs. the Oakland Raiders. It turned out to be a loss but Flacco more than held his own in his first game as a Bronco. 

Flacco went 21-of-31 for 268 yards, with one touchdown and a passer rating of 105.3. That passer rating was the highest for a Broncos QB since QB Trevor Siemian (107.7) at Oakland on Nov. 26, 2017. 

On top of his passer rating, Flacco's 268 yards were the second-most ever for a Broncos' starting QB in his debut, but before fans get too excited, it's important to remember that the best debut all-time came from Case Keenum, who passed for 329 yards vs. Seattle in 2018. 

“I thought he had some really nice throws, and then some that weren’t obviously up to his standard," head coach Vic Fangio said from the podium post-game. "I’ll have to look at tape to be honest with you, but I saw some really nice throws and I saw some that were not exactly where he wanted them to be.” 

Despite Flacco probably wanting a few throws back, he played well from the pocket and his stat-line and the final score likely would have looked different had DaeSean Hamilton not dropped a touchdown pass in the breadbasket late in the game. Flacco looked great on that drive but in Denver previous two trips to the red zone, the veteran QB failed to punch it in. 

The Broncos would finish 1-of-4 in the red zone, settling for three field goals. The Raiders, meanwhile, converted every red-area possession into a touchdown, save for one. That, as Coach Fangio said afterward, was the difference in the game. 

“I didn’t see much that was good, obviously," Fangio said. "We didn’t make the plays down there, I’ll have to look at the tape and see exactly for sure. That was really a big difference in the game, in spite of everything else, they scored touchdowns and we didn’t.”

The Raiders appeared to dictate the intensity level all night, while the Broncos couldn't match. Flacco, perhaps subconsciously, pointed to the first play from scrimmage for Denver — a jet-sweep hand-off to TE Noah Fant — as the impetus for Oakland's smothering energy. 

“I mean obviously when you come in somewhere and you let them get a tackle for a loss on the first play, they’re going to have some emotion," Flacco said after the game. "The crowd is going to play into that and all those things, but I really do feel like even on a couple of those drives we got some things going, but it was really what we did or didn’t do that ended up hurting us. I think if we didn’t do those things, then you would have felt some of the emotion and some of the excitement of the crowd go out of it, kind of leave the stadium, but we just weren’t able to put it together. We were a little sloppy in how we executed.”

The Broncos are going to need better play-calling from OC Rich Scangarello next week, as well as better execution from Flacco and company, especially in the red zone, if the team is even going to hope to beat the Chicago Bears. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle. 

Comments (4)
No. 1-4

Just have to point out something: Saying Flacco had the highest QB rating in Oakland for a Broncos QB since 2017 is really only saying it was better than last year.

Chad Jensen
Chad Jensen


Fair point, my friend. Flacco didn't exactly set the world on fire. But I mostly liked what I saw. What was your take on Flacco's night?


Going into the game last night, I didn't really expect too much from our offense and sure enough, there were multiple occasions where we settled for three points instead of six. That has been a very disturbing pattern really ever since the Sherriff left town but that being said, there were times last night when I watched some of Flacco's throws and I thought to myself, "Yeah, I'm glad we have a guy like that who can make these throws or we would be in even worse shape than we are now."

My take on Flacco has always been that he's exceptional at the deep ball but his short and intermediate throws have always been a little suspect and last night's game was really no exception to this. He made a number of great throws downfield but I can remember a throw over the middle that was late and that little swing pass to the right flat (the receiver's name escapes me at the moment) where the ball was thrown behind the receiver and by the time he spun around to catch it, it was a loss of three yards when it could have been a sizable gain if the ball was thrown to the right spot. Overall, I was happy with the play from the QB position though I do feel that Flacco could stand to work a little bit on his body language and just generally show his teammates more emotion.

I know you asked specifically about Flacco's night so I'll try not to say too much about the defense but wow - we really got blown off the ball for most of the game and I don't think Carr ever touched the turf. I know we are missing Davis and one two other guys but I really expected to see some pressure from the two star edge guys and it just wasn't there. Which in turn put a lot of pressure on a guy like Yiadom.

I know one game does not a season make but their effort last night on both sides of the ball (well, maybe on all three sides with yet another terrible effort on kick coverage) shows that they have some glaring holes in the dike to plug and it's going to require all hands and then some to plug them!


Flacco looked rusty and scared. Holding the ball in the red zone with a wide open running lane in front of him, instead opting for the sack. Every single time the broncos got something going, they found a new way to shoot themselves in the foot. We as fans cannot lose our minds over the first game. This is not a team built to play from behind. The strengths of the team (pass rushing and running the ball) are better suited for when you are already winning and looking to control the clock. It'll look better once some key players come back from injury (janovich,Callahan and Davis in particular). Then hopefully the broncos can stop the run (Davis) and actually be able to run some power concepts without tipping their hands pre snap (janovich). Still sucks to lose though