DENVER — Ahead of Sunday’s game, Head Coach Vic Fangio clearly outlined the Broncos’ objective for the season’s final stretch.
“It’s all about winning,” Fangio said Wednesday.
The Broncos did just that, as they rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to earn a 27-17 win over the Lions and improve to 6-9 on the season. With a win next week against the Raiders, the Broncos would be assured their best record since the 2016 season.
Earning a win against the Lions (3-11-1) was hardly easy, as Detroit led 10-0 in the first quarter behind a 64-yard punt-return touchdown. Drew Lock, however, led the Broncos to scores on their final two possessions of the half to tie the game at 10-10 at halftime.
In the second half, Lock led the Broncos on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives to turn a 17-13 deficit into the final 27-17 margin.
Lock has now led go-ahead fourth-quarter drives in each of his two home starts as he improved to 3-1 as a starter.
The defense did its part, as well. The Lions weren’t able to gain 100 yards on the ground or through the air and totaled just 191 yards. The unit allowed just 10 points, and the Lions did not threaten the end zone after a scoring drive on their first possession of the second half.
The front seven, which tallied four sacks and six quarterback hits, allowed David Blough to complete just 12-of-24 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.
In all, Denver finished the game on a 27-7 run after facing the initial 10-point deficit.
These are the players and plays that mattered from Sunday’s win over the Lions.
Trailing 17-13, the Broncos faced a fourth-and-1 from their own 49-yard line with less than a minute to play in the third quarter. At the snap of the ball, Andrew Beck ran from left to right to take a handoff from Drew Lock. Beck appeared to be stopped in the backfield, but Phillip Lindsay trailed him on the play. Beck pitched to Lindsay on the option run, and Lindsay picked up the first down.
The Broncos didn’t look back from there. Lock found Courtland Sutton for 13 yards on the next play, and he then hit Tim Patrick for 12 yards. Lindsay added a 13-yard run, and Lock found DaeSean Hamilton on a read-pass option to take a 20-17 lead.
The go-ahead score was the Broncos’ first fourth-quarter touchdown in the last 11 games.
Lindsay nearly broke free for a score on the Broncos’ go-ahead drive, and Lock threw the ball rather than handing off to him on the scoring play. On Denver’s next drive, though, Lindsay got his score. On first-and-10 from the Detroit 27-yard line, Lindsay followed blocks from Austin Schlottmann, Jake Rodgers and Connor McGovern to get into the open field. From there, his speed took over, as he raced into the end zone for his seventh rushing score of the year. Lindsay then turned to the crowd to unleash a Mile High Salute.
After the Broncos posted just three points in a Week 15 loss in Kansas City, Drew Lock faced questions about his ability to bounce back. He proved he could on Sunday, as he completed 25-of-33 passes for 192 yards, one touchdown and a 99.6 quarterback rating. For the first time in four games, he also avoided a turnover. Lock led the Broncos out of a 10-point deficit to start the game and then led the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter. His performance against the Lions didn’t rival his three-touchdown outing against the Texans, but he posted the second-highest quarterback rating of his young career and led the Broncos to a win. As Fangio mentioned earlier in the week, that was the only thing that mattered. Yet, while that may be true, it was equally important for the Broncos’ long-term outlook at the position for Lock to rebound nicely from a poor game in Kansas City. He did just that in his third win in four games.
Wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton bounced back nicely from a tough season as he posted a career high 65 yards and also caught a touchdown. Running back Phillip Lindsay moved within 42 yards of his second consecutive 1,000-yard season as he ran for 109 yards and a touchdown. On defense, outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu recorded his third sack of the season, and all three have come in the last three weeks. Rookie Dre’Mont Jones tallied two sacks for the first multi-sack game of his career, and Malik Reed also recorded a sack of David Blough. The Broncos’ defense had a nice outing as a unit, as Detroit totaled fewer than 200 yards of total offense. On special teams, Diontae Spencer posted a return of 47 yards to set up a third-quarter field goal. A fourth-quarter punt return, coupled with an unnecessary roughness penalty, helped Denver to their second touchdown of the final frame.