The Denver Broncos were officially eliminated from playoff contention this weekend after the Buffalo Bills came into town and left with a 48-19 victory. Buffalo dominated the game from start to finish, and while the score was close at halftime, as Buffalo led just 21-13, the Bills quickly pulled away in the third quarter.
The Bills outgained the Broncos by almost 300 yards while holding the ball for nearly 34 game minutes. It was a dominant performance by a Buffalo team that captured its first division title in 25 years.
The Bills were able to win by shutting down Denver’s key players. Here’s how our five players to watch performed.
QB Drew Lock
Mark Schlereth was trying so hard to turn this into a near-equal comparison between Lock and Josh Allen. After Lock threw a phenomenal touchdown pass to tight end Noah Fant just before halftime, Schlereth said that we were “watching a young quarterback mature right before our eyes.” At halftime, Lock was 12-of-20 for 99 yards with that touchdown, adding 29 rushing yards on three carries. Allen was 16-of-23 for 176 yards with two touchdowns, adding 32 rushing yards and a touchdown on two carries. While Allen finished strongly, for Lock, it was all downhill in the second half. The young quarterback lost a fumble on Denver’s first possession of the half that Jerry Hughes returned for a touchdown, and his inability to involve his wide receivers in the passing game made it easier for Buffalo to clamp down on the tight ends and running backs as the game progressed. Lock completed 8-of-12 second-half passes, but he only managed 33 more passing yards on those attempts. Buffalo exploited Lock’s weaknesses on Saturday.
RB Melvin Gordon III
The big, physical runner had a solid day statistically, and if you started him on your fantasy team this week, you weren’t disappointed. Gordon finished the day with 11 carries for 61 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 20 yards on the day. However, the overall numbers don’t tell the whole tale of his day. Most of Gordon’s production came on Denver’s penultimate possession when they were already trailing 41-13. On that drive, Gordon had four carries for 30 yards and a touchdown. By that point, Buffalo had lifted nearly all of their starters. Gordon did score in the second quarter following an Andre Roberts fumble, but he was mostly a non-factor until the game was well out of reach.
WR Tim Patrick
Of Lock’s 32 passes, only 13 went to wide receivers. The others went either to tight ends or the running backs. As a result, none of Denver’s wideouts had much of an impact. Patrick led the Broncos’ wide receivers in catches with three, and he was second in receiving yards...with 14. Jerry Jeudy caught his only pass for a 19-yard gain even though he was targeted five times. Patrick was covered by a combination of Tre’Davious White, Levi Wallace, and Josh Norman for much of the day, with Siran Neal seeing some time on him in the fourth quarter.
EDGE Bradley Chubb
The man that John Elway drafted instead of Josh Allen had one tackle and one quarterback hit on Sunday. That’s it. That’s the summary. Allen had time to throw all day, as he was hit five times and sacked once. Chubb was largely a nonfactor.
CB Michael Ojemudia
The rookie corner did a fairly nice job, which is crazy when you consider that Buffalo threw for over 350 yards on the day. But think about it—he found himself covering Stefon Diggs for much of the afternoon. What did you think was going to happen? Diggs caught 11 passes for 147 yards on the day, but Ojemudia actually helped to prevent it from being worse. He had great coverage on Diggs down the sideline in the first half. Allen dropped a dime on Diggs, but Ojemudia did a nice job using the boundary as an extra defender to keep Diggs from having the room to drag both feet in bounds. Ojemudia finished the day with three tackles.