Three numbers that tell the story of Broncos-Chargers
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There is one thing at which the Broncos are better than anyone else: wasting terrific defensive performances. The defense dominates in the game, dominates on the stat sheet … and yet too often in recent years, they end up with a “L” for their efforts.
“Any stat we could have achieved as a defense don’t mean s*** because we didn’t win today, and that’s just my focus,” said Baron Browning. “We want to win. We don’t want to have a great defensive game and then we come up short.”
And yes, there is a number to explain just how adept the Broncos are at this dubious accomplishment.
That is the number of losses since Super Bowl 50 for the Broncos when they allowed fewer than 20 points. No one else has more than 11.
Monday’s defeat was the third such loss of the season for the Broncos and their second in the last two weeks. It also dropped the Broncos to 2-5 in their last seven games when allowing fewer than 20 points.
Think about that for a moment. In the last 10 weeks of regular-season play, Denver has five defeats when allowing fewer than 20 points, That is as many or more such defeats than half of the league has since the start of the 2016 season.
And in the most recent 10-week span, the Broncos’ five losses when allowing fewer than 20 points are twice as many as any other team. Nobody else has more than two.
Since 2016, NFL teams win 83.1 percent of the time when allowing under 20 points. For the Broncos, that figure is 68.2 percent. Only the Bengals (.667) and Lions (.661) are worse.
The number of penalty yards committed by the Broncos on Monday night. It was the team’s highest penalty-yardage total since an infraction-strangled 48-13 win over Tampa Bay in 1976.
That Bucs team finished winless, and the two head coaches — Denver’s John Ralston and Tampa Bay’s John McKay — had a history going back to their Pac-8 days at
Stanford and USC, respectively.
In the 53 seasons since the AFL-NFL merger of 1970, the Broncos are the 57th team to accumulate at least 150 penalty yards in a single game, according to pro-football-reference. So, what the Broncos did happens about once a year league-wide — although last year it took place twice.
Denver leads the league in penalties (54) and penalty yardage (486) through 6 weeks. Those totals are both the highest in Broncos history after 6 games.
Another 14? Yes, but there is a reason for it.
It’s the umber of times on third down that Los Angeles extended its series. This includes first downs that came via three pass-interference calls against rookie cornerback Damarri Mathis.
When counting the yardage accumulated on those penalties, Los Angeles gained an average of 5.5 yards on its 25 third-down plays. The Chargers’ overall success rate was 56 percent.
Denver averaged just 3.3 yards on its 15 third-down chances — also including a defensive pass-interference call. But when removing that penalty from the equation, the Broncos averaged just 2.1 yards per third down — which is kind of a problem given that the Broncos needed 6.1 yards to move the chains, on average.
Including the infraction, Denver finished 5-of-15 on third downs. But that mark was a meager 2-of-11 after the first quarter.