It starts with the small things. On the opening kickoff, Cody Latimer trotted out to the field with a jersey that read "Lattimer" on the back. Right from the get go, something was just off today.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1681565-5-reasons-you-should-go-p... The narrative ahead of today's game was that Denver's brick wall defense had a chance to slow down the most unstoppable offense of the 2016 season. Narratives are often misleading.
In a shake-up of our previous perceptions, it was Atlanta's defense that owned the game at Mile High. The Falcons offense had a handful of explosive plays, but it was ultimately their ability to control the ball that was Denver's undoing.
In the end, this game left the Broncos with a lot of questions on all three phases. For the Falcons, their impressive victory may have vaulted themselves from high-flying anomaly to legitimate NFC contender.
Open Season on Paxton Lynch
There's going to be a whole lot of debate and second-guessing regarding the quarterback situation. Paxton Lynch made his first start in the NFL and it will likely ending up being his last start for some time.
Lynch certainly wasn't in a good spot, but there were a number of times in which the rookie just didn't help himself out on a number of plays.
The glaring weakness was at right tackle, where Ty Sambrailo was consistently beat by Vic Beasley, who notched 3.5 sacks. For reference, he had just five sacks in his two-year career up to this point. Sambrailo was beaten on what felt like every pass play, eventually being replaced by Michael Schofield.
In the first half, the Broncos mustered up just one field goal, as Lynch was mostly unable to find a rhythm in the first half. The lack of protection and sprinkling of high throws put Denver behind the eight ball early.
Lynch also made one big mistake, an interception to Ricardo Allen from the back of his own end zone. He also fumbled a couple of times
There's simply not much to say. The Broncos couldn't find the end zone until late in the game when Lynch flipped a quick pass out to Demaryius Thomas, who reached the ball past the white line for a three-yard score.
It's nearly impossible to be successful offensively without a potent running attack, and the Broncos certainly lacked one today. It was tough sledding for C.J. Anderson, who picked up just 41 yards. Devontae Booker added just 23 yards of his own.
The two top pass catchers were, as to be expected, Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, who combined for 12 catches, 129 yards and a score. Without Virgil Green, the tight ends were virtually non-existent, adding no catches between John Phillips and Jeff Heuerman, the invisible man.
In the end, the Broncos made a mad dash just to total 16 points. It was an absolutely chaotic and desperate semblance of an offense against Atlanta's defense, who was simply up to the task today, piling up six sacks.
The offense will benefit from the return of Green, Donald Stephenson, and Trevor Siemian. It was a clunker, and hopefully their last of the season. The sky isn't falling, but there's plenty of work to be done.
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Will Keys is an Editor for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @WillKeys6.