BRONCOS

Three numbers that tell the story of Broncos-Raiders

Oct 3, 2022, 4:35 PM
Russell Wilson...
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

DENVER — Russell Wilson wasn’t the problem Sunday. And in losing 32-23 to the Raiders, the Broncos managed to fall despite Wilson posting numbers that until Week 4 had guaranteed a win.

That’s where this week’s postgame three numbers begins:

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124, 65 and 3

That refers to a 124.0 passer rating, a 65-percent completion rate and 3 total touchdowns. Sunday marked the 24th time that Wilson reached those marks in the same game.

It was also the first time that his team lost when he posted those numbers. A perfect 23-0 … until Sunday.

There’s a first time for everything, I suppose. But for any quarterback, such losses are rare. Since 2012 — Wilson’s first season — teams who have starting quarterbacks with that stat line are 371-38 — a robust .908 winning percentage.

So, why did the Broncos fall despite Wilson’s play?

The next number helps explain it:

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48

Consecutive losses absorbed by the Broncos when allowing at least 200 rushing yards while rushing for fewer than 100, per pro-football-reference.com.

Denver hasn’t avoided defeat with that type of rushing day in 60 years. On Sept. 15, 1962, the Broncos defeated Buffalo 23-20 despite rushing for just 27 yards while allowing the Bills 211.

But the Broncos not only couldn’t contain the run; their offense struggled on the ground, too. This wasn’t a function of losing Javonte Williams. Before his season-ending knee injury, he struggled to find room.

The play on which he suffered his devastating knee injury was typical of the day. On that doomed run, two Las Vegas defenders met him three yards behind the line of scrimmage.

And that leads to number No. 3:

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92.9

That’s not a radio frequency. It’s the percentage of yards for Broncos running backs that came after contact Sunday. And for Williams, he was met so often behind the line of scrimmage that his yardage after contact — 32 yards — was greater than his actual yardage tally of 28.

Per the data compiled by Pro Football Focus, 86.3 percent of the Broncos’ rushing yards since Week 2 came after contact. In Week 1, that figure was 52.5 percent.

The first step to getting the ground game right involves giving the runners a chance.

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Three numbers that tell the story of Broncos-Raiders