INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — The quarterback-receiver tandem of Drew Lock and Jerry Jeudy is supposed to be the centerpiece of the Denver Broncos’ offense for years to come. But when the youngsters had a chance to engineer another comeback against the Los Angeles Chargers, they showed just how far they still have to go.
Lock’s red-zone interception, dropped passes by Jeudy and other mistakes proved costly in the Broncos’ 19-16 loss to the Chargers on Sunday.
The Broncos (5-10) trailed by 13 points in the fourth quarter before tying the game on a field goal by Brandon McManus with 2:52 remaining.
“I think that reflects well on the team, their effort, their toughness, their resiliency,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. “But we got to start making the plays and not do the things that cause you to lose a game like that.”
The Chargers (6-9) regained the lead on a field goal with 41 seconds to play. Lock got the Broncos to midfield on the final drive, where his Hail Mary was picked off at the goal line by Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams as time expired.
Four plays earlier, Jeudy dropped a deep ball that hit the rookie in the hands. With Jeudy running in stride in Chargers territory, it would have — at worst — set up McManus, who had already connected from 50 and 52 yards, for a tying field goal. It was the fifth drop for Jeudy, the No. 15 overall pick in the draft.
“The ball definitely came to me,” said Jeudy, who had six receptions for 61 yards on 15 targets. “Like I said, I just got to make plays. Ain’t nobody stopping me, I’m open. I just got to finish. I beat myself today.”
Lock did his best to support Jeudy and help him maintain a positive mindset during and after the game, but the second-year quarterback had his own gaffe that loomed large. In the first quarter, Lock rolled to his left and winged an off-balance pass that hit DaeSean Hamilton in the hands. It bounced to cornerback Casey Hayward in the end zone, costing the Broncos at least three points.
“It’s a play I just got to throw away,” Lock said.
Lock was 24 of 47 for 264 yards and two interceptions. Though he did rush for the Broncos’ only touchdown on a quarterback sneak with 6:31 to play, Fangio described Lock’s performance as a fair summation of an erratic season.
“There’s a lot of good, and there’s something that’s got to get cleaned up and disappear,” Fangio said.
The same can be said of the Broncos’ offense as a whole. Denver has scored at least 20 points just six times this season. With a 4-2 record in those games, there have been signs Denver can compete if that side of the ball can produce. But the lack of consistency despite the investment of draft capital in Lock and Jeudy reflects how much work remains.
Lock thinks he is close to taking the next step.
“I am starting to see this speed, these defenses, and know this offense well enough to be able to go and feel really confident going in there to make the throws I need, see the defense, and put the ball where it needs to go,” Lock said. “It’s something I feel a lot better that I did, I would say, beginning of the season with just how many reps we’ve gotten this year in games. But it is about me finding the steady tempo of a game.”
As for Jeudy, Fangio wants to see how he responds to adversity.
“Could be a defining moment in his career, that he’s got to come back, have a great week of practice, catch a bunch of balls and then show up on Sunday when the ball’s thrown to him and catch ’em,” Fangio said.