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Broncos notes: Bills poke holes in Denver's improved run defense

Alexander Johnson makes the hit; Josh Allen throws the touchdown. Shelby Harris twists ankle in pregame warmups. Hobbled Sutton held to one catch.
Credit: AP
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary (26) runs the ball against the Denver Broncos during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The new and improved Denver run defense looked more like the porous unit from the first month of the season.

On a cold, windy day that made passing the ball difficult, the Bills nevertheless dug in against the Broncos’ stacked front and rushed for 244 yards on 5.2 yards per carry. Denver's D had allowed an average of just 68.0 rushing yards in their previous six games.

The Broncos seemed to empty their emotional  reservoirs for three games in a row – beating the Browns but losing last-second heartbreakers to the Colts and Vikings. Denver didn’t have it against the Bills.

Much of Buffalo’s running game feeds off the scrambles of athletic quarterback Josh Allen, who rushed for 56 yards. But the Bills’ running back duo of Devin Singletary (21 carries, 106 yards and Frank Gore (15 and 65) combined for a workmanlike 171 yards on 36 carries.

“Yeah, it wasn’t very good today,’’ Broncos coach Vic Fangio said of his run defense. “ They blocked us good, their backs ran hard and I'm sure some of our fits were off a little bit.’’

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Just missed

Alexander Johnson had a whopping 15 tackles, but it’s the sack he didn’t get that hurt.

A rare inside linebacker who can pass rush, Johnson came in on a blitz and clobbered Josh Allen as the Buffalo quarterback let go of a pass.

The pass fell in the arms of wide open receiver Cole Beasley for an 18-yard touchdown to finish the Bills’ first possession of the second half. Buffalo’s lead grew from 6-0 to 13-0.

“Man, that was tough,’’ Johnson said. “I didn’t see him throw a touchdown. I blew through the running back and after I blew through the running back I targeted (Allen) to go make a tackle. Next thing you know I’m getting up off the ground and he goes, “You know it’s a touchdown.’

“I’m not going to say what I said to him after that.”

Shelby, Jewell, Dawson hurt

Coming off the first 3-sack game of his career, Broncos defensive lineman Shelby Harris didn’t get a chance to deliver much of an encore.

Harris twisted his ankle during pregame warmups when he stepped on the foot of left guard Dalton Risner. Harris played the first half, but couldn’t go in the second half.

Harris left with a large protective boot on his left foot, but he said he would be fine.

Josey Jewell finally got some inside linebacker snaps, but he left in the first half with a sprained right ankle suffered while blocking on a kickoff return. X-rays were negative, but Jewell left with a boot on his right foot and will have an MRI exam Monday.

No. 3 cornerback Duke Dawson Jr. suffered a concussion in the second half and did not return.

Sutton held to one catch

In his much anticipated matchup with Bills’ star cornerback Tre’Davious White, Broncos top receiver Courtland Sutton was winning early. He beat White for a 27-yard reception on the Broncos’ first series and drew a defensive holding penalty against White in the second quarter.

But Fangio said Sutton tweaked his ankle early in the game and while he played through it, the coach thought it affected his top playmaker. Sutton never got a second catch.

“I don’t make excuses for myself,’’ Sutton said. “Things happen and you have to continue to battle through it. My job is to help the offense be successful. Put my best foot forward. I’m going to go back to the drawing board myself and make sure that I’m doing everything I possibly can to put myself in position to help the offense.”

Bronco Bits

Defensive end Adam Gotsis and outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu had their best game of the season. Gotsis had 5 tackles and a pass knockdown and Attaochu had two tackles for a loss among his 4 tackles.  …

Inside linebacker Todd Davis had 13 tackles to up his team-best season total to 79. …

Von Miller got an early sack, giving him 6.0 on the season. With 104.0 career sacks, Miller needs two more to pass former teammate Elvis Dumervil (105.5) for 26th place on the league’s all-time list.

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