Offense — F
This grade looked headed for a better fate early in the game when Russell Wilson started 10-of-10 and hit nine different receivers, including tight end Greg Dulcich for a touchdown. That it still finishes with a failing mark speaks to how bad Denver was down the stretch. Seven punts and a zero-yard field goal “drive” from halftime onward. Zero first downs in two overtime chances. A 3-of-15 after-halftime passing mark for Wilson and just 15 yards. Minus-9 if you include the sack yardage. Simply dreadful production coming off an 11-day layoff.
Defense — B
Denver’s defense really just had one issue Monday night: Third-down performance The Chargers converted half of their 22 chances, including nine of their first 14. Other than that, Ejiro Evero’s group more than held up its end of the bargain against Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert and company. Baron Browning is a revelation. Justin Simmons returned. Rookie Damarri Mathis struggled mightily — four pass interference penalties in his first start — but the group around him rallied time and time again. That it wasn’t enough is far more an indication of where other issues reside than an indictment of the defense itself.
Special teams — D-
The only thing keeping this from being an F is that on a night when it felt like field goals could be the difference, Brandon McManus hit from 50 and 48 yards. The rest? Ouch. Rookie Montrell Washington had been trending in the right direction but bobbled a punt early – he recovered it – and then muffed an overtime punt that set up the Chargers’ winning field goal. P.J. Locke shouldn’t have tried to set up a block right in front of Washington, but Washington also needs to make a loud enough call to clear everybody out once he’s decided on a fair catch. Somewhere, that process broke down. And it cost the Broncos dearly.
Coaching — F
There were real, legitimate positives. Greg Dulcich came off injured reserve and made an impact in the passing game. Aggressive timeout usage earned the Broncos a late second quarter possession that netted three points. This is a results business, though, and the second half and overtime from Denver’s offense stands as a clinic on how to lose a game several players labeled “must-win.” They simply could get nothing going offensively. Perhaps the biggest issue currently, though: Almost all of the issues that plagued the Broncos in a Week 1 loss to Seattle still exist. Penalties, offensive dry spells, red zone failures. They haven’t gone away, at least not consistently. Lose one head-scratcher, it’s an aberration. This is the NFL. Lose three — Seattle, Indianapolis and this one — and it’s who you are.