What We Saw: Week 9

The QB List staff catches you up on everything you missed during Week 9 of the 2020 NFL season.

Broncos @ Falcons


The Falcons took at 27-6 lead into the 4th Quarter and did what they always do – squander it. The Broncos eventually ran out of time, but not before they managed to claw their way back. In fact, at one point in the 4th Quarter, the Broncos had the ball, down just 7. Ultimately, to hold on 34-27 for their first home victory of the year. Let’s dive in and see what the Falcons did for three quarters.


Denver Broncos




Drew Lock: 25/48, 313 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 1 sack | 7 carries, 47 yards, 1 TD


The Falcons only got to Drew Lock once in this game, but he was under pressure all game. This game was pretty one-sided for three quarters, as Lock struggled to keep drives going until the 4th quarter.

On the Broncos opening drive, Lock hit Noah Fant in stride for a 32-yard completion. Unfortunately, the drive stalled out, leading to a punt. The second possession led to a field goal, but it was more of the same as Lock found Jeudy and Hamler for nice gains, but three consecutive incompletions led to a Broncos’ field goal. Following the Falcons’ second touchdown of the game, Lock and the Broncos went three-and-out. Lock took a sack on 1st down and then on 3rd and 15, he threw a head-scratching pass to Melvin Gordon that had zero chance of getting the necessary yardage. With the Falcons up 20-3, the Broncos punted one more time in the first half. Lock was under pressure and forced to throw early twice on the possession.

Lock and the Broncos started the 2nd half with the ball. The 9 play, 54-yard drive was the longest drive up to that point of the game. The drive featured a 22-yard pass interference penalty on a pass to Jeudy and a key 9-yard completion to Tim Patrick on 3rd and 5. On 1st and 10 from the Atlanta 25-yard line, Lock took a shot to the end zone for Patrick, only to have the ball go off Patrick’s left hand. The Broncos settled for a field goal, but for momentum purposes, it was a very important drive.

Following a Matt Ryan interception, the Broncos went three-and-out, punting the ball for the fourth time of the game. With the Falcons up 27-6, Lock put his team in another hole by taking an intentional grounding penalty on 1st and 10. The penalty made it 2nd and 21 and two plays later the Broncos punted again.

The Falcons finally had their first three-and-out of the game towards the end of the 3rd Quarter and that was when Lock’s time to shine. Lock led a 10 play, 70-yard touchdown drive to get the Broncos in the end zone for the first time. On the drive, Lock completed passes to Jeudy and Hamilton on 3rd downs to keep the drive alive. On 3rd and 5, Lock connected with Jeudy for the score.



Things seemed to be swinging towards the Broncos’ favor. It was in the 4th Quarter, which is Atlanta’s favorite time to tank a game, and the Broncos defense just forced the Falcons to punt. However, Drew Lock had other ideas as he took the first snap of the drive, was under pressure, and just flung the ball into the air and into safety Ricardo Allen’s hands for an interception. To be fair, I have no idea what the Broncos offensive line was doing as the defensive tackle went unblocked into the backfield. That being said, this was an awful decision by Lock.

With 9 minutes left to play in the game, Lock found KJ Hamler on a crossing route for 32 yards. Down by 21 meant 4 down territory from the Atlanta 39, but four plays later, the Broncos turn the ball over on downs.

Following a quick three-and-out by the Falcons, Lock turned to his legs, piling up 35 yards on the ground en route to setting up this touchdown pass.



The momentum appeared to switch back to the Broncos as the defense forced their second consecutive three-and-out. The Broncos picked up 24 yards thanks to a 9-yard completion to Hamler and a subsequent unnecessary roughness penalty. On the next play, Lock hit Jeudy for a 41-yard gain. Two plays later, Lock scampered into the end zone to make it a one-score game.



The Broncos miraculously trailed by 7 with 38 seconds remaining. Unfortunately, four plays later, the ball was back in the Falcons hands and the game was over.


Running Backs


Phillip Lindsay: 8 carries, 23 yards | 3 targets

Melvin Gordon III: 6 carries, 18 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards


For years now, the weakness of the Falcons defense has been running backs catching passes out of the backfield…..which I guess the Broncos are incapable of. Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon never got anything going in this game. Gordon’s one reception came on a 3rd and 15 where Lock game him no chance of making the first down.

Gordon out-snapped Lindsay 44 to 28, with Royce Freeman seeing the field on one snap. The Falcons led 27-6 in the 4th Quarter, so the ultra negative game script took the Broncos running backs out of this game.


Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


Jerry Jeudy: 14 targets, 7 receptions, 125 yards, 1 TD, 1 fumble

KJ Hamler: 10 targets, 6 receptions, 75 yards | 1 carry 15 yards

Noah Fant: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 45 yards

Tim Patrick: 9 targets, 4 receptions, 29 yards, 1 TD

DaeSean Hamilton: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 12 yards

Nick Vannett: 1 target, 1 reception, 11 yards

Albert Okwuegbunam: 1 target, 1 reception, 7 yards

Tyrie Cleveland: 1 target


Drew Lock struggled with pressure all day from the Falcons defensive line which explains the difference between the targets and the catches. Jerry Jeudy had an excellent game despite his quarterback’s struggles. In addition to his excellent line, he drew two pass interference penalties for 36-yards. If we include the pass interference targets, Jeudy saw a whopping 8 deep targets on the day. One of which, resulted in a touchdown.



KJ Hamler was Drew Lock’s second-favorite receiver on the day. Hamler converted a couple of key first downs and took a shot over the middle from Keanu Neal that drew an unnecessary roughness penalty. Hamler popped right up and was okay. The former Nittany Lion looked quick in space and took an end-around for 15 yards. Those types of plays I like to take note of because it tells me the team is looking to get the ball into Hamler’s hands.

Noah Fant had an awesome 32-yard catch and run on the Broncos first series, but limped off the field following the tackle. He went back to the locker room with an ankle injury. He did return eventually but saw just two more targets for the rest of the game. It should be noted Fant’s second target came following Okwuegbunam’s injury.

Speaking of tight end injuries, following his catch on his lone target, Albert Okwuegbunam went down grabbing his knee.

Tim Patrick saw 9 targets, but he suffered from Lock’s inaccuracy. He saw three deep targets and two end zone targets. He caught one of those end zone targets and had one go off his hands.


Atlanta Falcons




Matt Ryan: 25/35, 284 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 2 sacks | 3 carries, 10 yards


The Falcons took their foot off the gas in the 4th quarter and let the Broncos back into this game. Ryan for his part did a decent job keeping the ball moving even when they struggled moving the ball on the ground.

Ryan and the Falcons got the game going with a 10-play drive that resulted in a field goal. One of the key plays was a 3rd and 5 catch over the middle by Olamide Zaccheaus. The Falcons scored the games’ first touchdown on their second possession. The drive included a 3rd and 1 converted by the fullback and a bizarre play on 2nd and 11 where the center snapped the ball and no one blocked the defensive line. Somehow Matt Ryan got rid of the ball before taking a sack. One play later, Ryan connected with Olamide Zaccheaus for a 51-yard touchdown bomb.



Following a Broncos field goal, Ryan led the Falcons down the field once again. A broken play had Ryan bootleg out to the right. He threw down the sideline and found his favorite early target Zaccheaus for a 42-yard completion. That set up Ryan’s second touchdown pass of the game.



Following a Broncos’ three-and-out, Ryan led the Falcons on the fourth consecutive scoring drive. The drive featured a nifty little flip pass to Luke Stocker for a 12-yard gain. The Falcons were in the Red Zone when there appeared to be a pass interference penalty on a pass intended for Zaccheaus. However, upon further review, the pass was tipped at the line, so the flag was picked up. The drive ended in a field goal.



Following a Broncos field goal that opened the 2nd half, Ryan went play-action fake and threw the ball to the other team.



Matt Ryan got back to business following the interception. The Falcons drive was aided by two unnecessary roughness penalties by the Broncos, including one where Hayden Hurst took a helmet-to-helmet shot. He appeared to be in the game on the following play though, so it looks like he’s okay. Ryan capped the drive off with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones.

Following the Jones touchdown, the Falcons did their usual 4th Quarter tank. If we take away the 2-play drive in following the Ricardo interception, the Falcons had 4 three-and-outs and a six-and-out. I understand the coaching staff was trying to burn clock and end the game, but I’d love to see them step on the gas instead of letting up in these games.


Running Backs


Todd Gurley II: 19 carries, 53 yards, 1 TD | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 2 yards

Brian Hill: 8 carries, 24 yards | 1 target

Keith Smith: 1 carry, 1 yard


Todd Gurley saw 44 snaps while Brian Hill saw 19 of the 71 Falcons’ snaps. Other than a 13-yard gain early on for Gurley, this was a lot of plodding on his part. He had just 2 carries of 5 or more yards in 19 carries. Just two plays after a Ricardo Allen pick deep in Denver territory, Gurley found the end zone.




The team tried burning the clock in the 4th quarter, but failed to get the running game moving. While we can argue the Broncos likely knew the team was running, they still managed just 15 rushing yards in the 4th Quarter on 8 carries.


Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


Olamide Zaccheaus: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 103 yards, 1 TD

Hayden Hurst: 8 targets, 7 receptions, 62 yards

Julio Jones: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 54 yards, 1 TD

Christian Blake: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 31 yards

Russell Gage: 6 targets, 2 receptions, 11 yards

Luke Stocker: 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards

Brandon Powell: 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards, 1 TD | 1 carry, 4 yards


With Calvin Ridley sidelined with an ankle injury, it seemed like a smash spot for Julio Jones against a weak Broncos secondary. There was also a lot of chatter about Christian Blake being the wideout that would get the additional snaps. Turns out it was Olamide Zaccheaus day in Atlanta. Zaccheaus out-snapped Blake 52 to 12. and caught both of his deep targets, which totaled 93 of his 103 yards. Ryan hit Zaccheaus for the Falcons’ first touchdown of the game.

Jones for his part saw just 7 targets. Other than the touchdown reception, Julio’s other 6 targets were “short”. Maybe this workload is effected some due to the Falcons not having to pass in the 4th Quarter, but I thought this would be a full-on smash spot for Jones. There was a pass interference penalty in the 2nd Quarter when Jones was tackled before the ball got to him. The next play, Jones made a man play as he bowled over three Falcons defenders willing himself to the first down marker. Here’s the Julio touchdown. Such a pretty route and it helps that the corner bit inside and apparently didn’t realize where Jones went.




As the weeks go on, we’re seeing Hayden Hurst getting worked more and more into the offense. Hurst took a shot from Kareem Jackson which was called an unnecessary roughness penalty. Hurst was fine. He saw two deep targets, catching one.


— Rich Holman (@RichardoPL83 on Twitter)

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