ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos are 2-0 for the fifth consecutive season, but there’s one big area of concern: they’ve had four turnovers in their own territory that led to four touchdowns.
Philip Rivers turned two fourth-quarter takeaways into a pair of TD tosses, the latter a 38-yarder to Travis Benjamin on the first play after a fumble recovery, turning a blowout into a nail-biter that the Broncos won 24-21.
Last week, the Broncos limited the Cowboys to a field goal and TD drives that covered a mere 3 and 39 yards. Those touchdowns followed a strip sack of Trevor Siemian near his own goal line and another fourth-quarter interception.
The Broncos still blew out the Cowboys 42-17 after nearly blowing their 17-point fourth-quarter cushion against the Chargers.
“That’s one thing that bothers me about our team right now,” coach Vance Joseph said. “We have to finish better on both sides of the ball. Finishing games is obviously coaching better and playing better. It’s tough to finish games when you’re ahead because if you’re too conservative, you allow teams to get back in the game. If you’re too aggressive, you may turn the ball over.
“We have to develop a mentality where in the third and fourth quarter, if we’re up — which is a good thing — we have to focus. Really focus and not turn the ball over, offensively. If we do, defensively, we have to stand up and hold them to field goals,” Joseph said. “It’s been four turnovers, four touchdowns. We have to fix that issue on both sides of the ball.”
Just like they do on all Thursdays, the Broncos (2-0) went through sudden change situations this week as they studied the Buffalo Bills (1-1), whom they’ll face on the road Sunday.
“Some offenses take shots because they assume that you’re not focused,” Joseph said. “Some guys take shots like Philip and some guys just go to the normal offense. I think it’s part film study and it’s part focus. We have to go out there and force a field goal or force a punt. That’s just a mindset we have to develop.”
Denver defensive coordinator Joe Woods said no matter what teams show on film following takeaways, “you just have to play football. You can’t guarantee exactly what they’re going to do. They’re going to have change-ups. As long as we play with clean eyes, proper technique, our eyes in the right place … then we’re going to put ourselves in the position to make plays.”
The Broncos’ opponents have so far made the most of their takeaways.
“Sudden change, there’s a short field. You want to put the ball in the end zone. You want to score points. I think that’s just Football 101,” linebacker Von Miller said. “Whenever the defense gets you the ball back, especially on a short field like that, you have to put it in. You have to put it in to stay in the game or change the leverage in the game. You have to put the ball through the uprights or through the end zone.”
So, the Broncos are out to keep offenses from capitalizing on takeaways — or better yet, to stop turning it over in the first place.
NOTES: Joseph listed LT Garett Bolles (ankle) and WR Bennie Fowler (concussion) as questionable for Sunday. Fowler had yet to clear concussion protocol heading into the weekend. … Joseph said NT Ahtyba Rubin, signed last week, was ready to make his Broncos debut.
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