Two teams that know all about close results and comebacks will meet Sunday afternoon when the Denver Broncos visit the Atlanta Falcons.
Their backgrounds in those types of games have varied dramatically.
One of the teams figures to at least show a continued upward trend when they face off.
The Broncos (3-4) rallied to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers 31-30 on the last play this past Sunday.
The Falcons have been involved in a few notable collapses, coming out on the wrong end of games with significant comebacks. Two weeks ago in their most recent home game, they lost on the final play to the Detroit Lions, 23-22.
There’s certainly a contrast between quarterbacks in terms of experience. Denver’s Drew Lock is emerging into a productive player, while Atlanta continues to rely on veteran Matt Ryan.
“They’ve got a bunch of young guys that are talented,” Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris said.
The Broncos came from 21 points down to beat the Chargers. It might be a horrible flashback for the Falcons when they study the Broncos, given Atlanta’s results from earlier this season.
The Broncos aren’t immune to frustration. Lock said he got up in front of the offense at halftime of the Chargers’ game with a message, much of it pointed toward himself.
“We just need to man-up, and when the plays come our way, we need to make them,” he said.
In the second-year quarterback’s mind, it could be a turning point to an inconsistent season. The Broncos have won three of their past four games, with a blowout setback to Kansas City the other game during that stretch.
“We’ve had three full games with this offense with normal personnel,” Lock said. “Maybe we’re just starting to click. … People just love to make opinions and jump too quick, and I hope we can keep proving them wrong.”
Atlanta (2-6) recovered for a 25-17 victory Oct. 29 at Carolina, winning for the second time in three games under Morris. They’ve had extra time to prepare for Denver’s visit while the Broncos have had a staggered practice schedule.
Still, the Falcons have been hampered by not finishing enough drives and settling for field goals.
“We have to score touchdowns, not dependent on who we’re playing but for our sake,” receiver Julio Jones said. “We have to score touchdowns.”
Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley has missed practice this week, and his status for Sunday looks shaky because of a foot injury. Ridley’s injury might not be as serious as initial reports suggested.
“We’ll see how he can progress throughout the week,” Morris said. “It’s on the up and up.”
The Broncos didn’t practice Wednesday based on concerns about recent increases in coronavirus cases. Offensive tackle Darrin Paulo, a practice-squad player, was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list, a day after team president Joe Ellis and general manager John Elway tested positive for the virus.
“We just felt it was the best thing to do,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said of taking a day off from practice. “There is always concern. The thing I feel good about, none of the positive tests we’ve had have originated from this building.”
The Broncos also called off a practice last week. As of Wednesday, the plan was to have a regular practice Thursday.
“We’re of the mind set that we would have to do some improvising and adjusting,” Fangio said. “This is all new for everybody, and we’re adjusting.”
Despite the revised workout schedule, it’s anticipated that cornerback A.J. Bouye could miss the next game after suffering a concussion against the Chargers.
It’s confirmed that Denver will be without tight end Jake Butt, who has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury and this week went on the injured reserve list.
Morris said Atlanta wants to become more consistent and physical in its rushing attack. He said the Falcons have failed in that category against other AFC opponents.
“We’ve got to add to our physical component,” he said.
Broncos outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, who is from Georgia, returns to his home area for this game. Chubb has 5.5 sacks this season, including at least one in each of the past four games.
The Falcons have been dealing with questions about defensive end Takk McKinley, who is injured but has been outspoken about the trade deadline. Morris said it’s a maturity issue and shouldn’t be a distraction for the team.
“When he’s playing football and playing at a high level, he’s a great person to have around,” Morris said.
–Field Level Media