ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Tick, tock, time for Drew Lock.
Although Lock is lucky he didn't play for the Broncos here Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. The Broncos got trampled on defense and were putrid on offense while losing to the Bills, 20-3 on a cold, windy late-November afternoon before 67,338 hearty souls at New Era Field.
With the Bills up 6-0 at halftime, the Broncos biggest problem was on offense. They managed just 49 net yards passing and 134 yards total. In their past six quarters, the Broncos have scored just 6 points.
Lock might be able to give the Broncos a spark. But he will need a lot more help that's just not there if he is to catch fire. Brandon Allen sparked the Broncos to a win against the Browns. Remember. He is 0-2 while completing just 27 of 64 passes (42.2 percent) since.
“We have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what we did wrong,'' said left guard Dalton Risner. "That starts with me. I didn’t have the best game, I’ve got to be better. I’m not a quarterback. I know Brandon gives his all every week. Plain and simple we just have to do better.”
Nothing against Allen, who had performed better than expected in relief of the injured Joe Flacco. At least until the second half here Sunday, when Allen looked like the backup quarterback he was the previous 3 1/2 seasons.
But the 2019 Broncos are now about the 2020, 2021 and 2022 Broncos. And Lock, the Broncos' second-round rookie quarterback, represents hope for tomorrow.
Lock is expected to be activated from the injured reserve later this week, although the team has talked about breaking him in as a back up to Allen for a game or two.
“Obviously, I want to play,'' Allen said. "I want to be part of the solution. But that’s not up to me so I’m going to work like I’m going to play next week.’’
In the first half, Allen had been scrambling well and throwing well given the conditions here Sunday. There was one costly play, though, when he didn’t read the mind of receiver Courtland Sutton well.
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With the Broncos deep in Buffalo Bills’ territory near the end of the first half, Sutton checked up about 15 yards downfield while Allen threw to where his receiver would have been had he kept running.
The ball was picked off by Bills’ cornerback Tre’Davious White and the Broncos’ best touchdown threat of the game was ruined.
“On me,'' Allen said. "Called the right play, thought the wrong thing. I thought he would keep going. Courtland did exactly what he was supposed to do, stop on the route. I threw it like he was going to keep running and a poor decision there.”
Bills quarterback Josh Allen put his team up 13-0 after he capped the first series of the second half with an 18-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Cole Beasley, who was moving down the seam after beating Davantae Harris.
In the fourth quarter, Josh Allen threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to John Brown, who got behind the Broncos' top cornerback, Chris Harris Jr.
The Broncos are now 3-8 while the Bills appear to be on their way to the playoffs with an 8-3 mark.
“It’s the same story,'' Chris Harris said. "Been the same story. It’s tough but Josh Allen is a good quarterback, man. I give him a lot of credit. He played a great game. He has a bright, bright future. I like his game. He’s big, he can run, he can throw. He’s going to be a good quarterback. As long as he stays on the course he’s on now, he’s got a bright future for sure.”
Josh Allen threw the ball a split second before he was hammered by Broncos' blitzing inside linebacker Alexander Johnson.
The Broncos answered with a drive that ended with a 45-yard field goal by Brandon McManus.
Brandon Allen was OK early but finished just10 of 25 for 82 yards. He was also sacked four times and threw the interception. Phillip Lindsay was the Broncos’ leading rusher with 50 yards on 11 carries.
Josh Allen was 15 of 25 for 185 yards with a touchdown and an interception to Broncos safety Justin Simmons. Josh Allen also rushed for 56 yards. Led by running back Devin Singletary's 106 yards, the Bills rushed for 244 yards.
The Bills had 418 yards in offense to just 134 for the punchless Broncos.
“Actually early on it was kind of OK considering the conditions and the good defense we were going against,'' said Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. "But at some point there we just stopped moving it totally and they kind of smothered us. It was a problem, obviously, and one that we need to get rectified somehow.”
Ball control was the early theme. The Broncos got the ball first, held it for 5 minutes with the big play a 27-yard completion from Brandon Allen to Sutton, who beat White on a deep in route. But with the ball at the Bills’ 31-yard line, rookie left guard Dalton Risner was called for unnecessary roughness.
"Trying to play physical and just made a silly decision in the beginning of the game,” Risner said.
The drive stalled and the Bills took over at their 10-yard line. Copying the Vikings’ second-half strategy from last week, the Bills and quarterback Josh Allen operated from a no-huddle.
The Bills stayed on the field for 17 plays and 8 minutes, 49 seconds before settling for a Stephen Hauschka 39-yard field goal.
Those two possessions, one by each team, ate up all but the last 1:10 of the first quarter, which ended with the Bills up 3-0.
The Bills had another long drive off the no-huddle in the second quarter. Back-to-back big plays – a 22-yard run off a reverse by receiver Robert Foster, and a 30-yard completion to slot receiver Cole Beasley – gave the Bills a first-and-goal at the 7.
This time the Broncos got a break as a Bills holding penalty led them to settle for another Hauschka field goal.
As it turned out, that second field goal was all the Bills needed against the Broncos, who continue to reach offensive lows.
Tight end Jeff Heuerman returned after missing the previous two games with a knee injury. Defensive end DeMarcus Walker (shoulder) and right tackle Ja'Wuan James were again inactive. ...
Inside linebacker and special teamer Josey Jewell (ankle) and cornerback Duke Dawson Jr. (concussion) suffered the most serious injuries in the game against the Bills.
But then the Broncos got a break as a nice run to near the goal line by Frank Gore was called back by a holding penalty. The Bills had to settle for another Hauschka field goal.
The 6-0 score followed a predictable script as Buffalo has the NFL’s No. 3-ranked defense while the Broncos’ D ranks No. 4. Each team’s offenses, though, rank in the bottom half of the league.
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