September 23, 2021

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Vic Fangio reflects on Pat Surtain II’s rookie…

3 min read
Vic Fangio reflects on Pat Surtain II’s rookie...

For much of the game, the Broncos’ rushing attack picked up small chunks.

Two yards here. Five yards there. Another short gain, then one for nine yards.

Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams didn’t make splash plays early — Denver didn’t have a rushing play of 10 yards through nearly three quarters — but they remained committed to the run and their average improved throughout the gain.

“It’s something you still have to learn every week because it’s tough,” Gordon said Monday of being patient. “You put in work and you want a big run early. The earlier the better, but you just have to stay with it, you know you just got to — you know you can’t overdo it, can’t overthink, do too much, kind of just got to stay with the game plan, flow of the game. Like Teddy [Bridgewater] said, ‘Jab, jab and then pow.’ There you go.”

In the first frame, the Broncos averaged 3.0 yards per carry. That jumped to 3.2 yards per carry in the second quarter. It improved again to 5.3 yards per carry in the third quarter.

Then, in the fourth quarter, the dam broke. Gordon broke free for a 70-yard run that iced the game and pushed the veteran back over 100 yards for the game.

“The big part of their plan was obvious: they wanted to stop the runs, wanted to stop our boot game,” Fangio said. “They made schematically drastic measures to do that. They were successful with it early, that’s why we had more success passing, but we did stay with it. If you stay with — not only Melvin’s long run but we popped a couple 10-yarders in there, too, and a couple six-yarders. Those were critical because those set up third and shorts-to-medium that we were able to convert. So, yeah, we’d like to be a team that could stay with the run even if it’s not going.”

The Broncos’ lone turnover of Week 1 came as second-year tight end Albert Okwuegbunam turned upfield inside the 5-yard line and had the ball ripped away by Logan Ryan. Okwuegbunam clearly lost the football before going to the ground, but the aftermath was far from clear.

The ruling on the field was that Logan recovered the ball inbounds, along the sideline. The replay, though, appeared to show that Ryan didn’t gain possession until his knee was already out of bounds.

Initially, it appeared the play would be overturned, as the Broncos sent their offense back onto the field after a lengthy review. Right before play resumed, though, the officials upheld the call on the field.

Asked about the call on Monday, Fangio said they referees initially decided to overturn the call but were overruled by a replay official at headquarters.

“They first told me — and you guys probably saw that they were talking to me the whole way — they first told me it’s going be our ball,” Fangio said. “They were just figuring out where to exactly place it and the timing element of it, and then he came back and said, ‘You’re not going to like this.’

“The head guy in New York came in and said, ‘Let it stand,’ and the head guy overruled the first guy’s verdict on it.”

The turnover didn’t hurt the Broncos too badly, as they forced a three-and-out and then scored a touchdown on the next drive.