By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Teddy Bridgewater remains sidelined with a concussion, so Drew Lock is preparing to make his second straight start Sunday when the Denver Broncos visit the Los Angeles Chargers.
Lock completed 15 of 22 passes for 153 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in Denver’s 17-13 loss at Las Vegas last week. It was his first start since losing his job to Bridgewater last summer.
Although he didn’t turn over the ball for just the fourth time in 25 career starts, the Broncos (7-8) faded from the playoff picture with a bungling offense that went 1 for 10 on third downs and rushed for a mere 18 yards.
That ineptitude led coach Vic Fangio to demur when asked what he thought of Lock’s performance afterward. He suggested “it’s hard to say anything good about the offense” when it took just one snap inside the Raiders 30-yard line — which came after Bradley Chubb returned an interception to the Las Vegas 1.
“Well, for one, we took care of the football,” Lock said Wednesday. “No turnovers. And when you have zero turnovers in a game that gives you most of the time the best chance to win the game.”
Since 2019, 120 teams have had a plus-3 turnover margin like the Broncos had Sunday and those teams are 106-13-1. The Broncos are 0-2.
Another positive from his first start since last Jan. 3, Lock said, was he felt comfortable from the get-go.
“I felt like I’d been playing all year and when you get to feel like that as a quarterback that brings a comfort, you get a lot of positive thoughts in the head, so to say,” Lock said. “It felt good to be out there. There was zero nerves, zero anxiety, zero anything.
“So, I’m looking forward to being able to go back out there feeling that way, feeling confident, knowing the game plan extremely well and trying to get these guys the ball, and just making plays when I’m out there.”
Lock said he got a jump-start on his preparation for the Chargers (8-7) through the cameo he had against them in Denver’s 28-13 win at home on Nov. 28 when Bridgewater was briefly sidelined with a bruised shin.
“I’m excited to be able to dive in as a starter again against a really good defense,” Lock said. “There’s a lot that goes into the prep every single week, but it does help to play them a little bit, kind of have a feel for who they are and how to attack them the second time around.”
The Broncos have a less than 1% chance of ending their long playoff drought, but they can halt their four-year run of losing seasons with wins over the Chargers and Chiefs to close out the schedule.
“That’s our No. 1 goal for us is to win these next two games,” Lock said.
They know they’ll have to find their ground game mojo again to finish 9-8.
“I think every team every Sunday has to establish a run game and when you have some trouble with it, it does make it a little difficult,” Lock said. “But if you watch all of our games throughout this year, there’s been minimal times when the run game has not been awesome.”
Rookie Javonte Williams has 1,123 scrimmage yards and seven scores and Melvin Gordon has 943 scrimmage yards and nine TDs. But last week, Williams ran seven times for 12 yards and Gordon had the worst game of his career: minus-4 yards on seven carries.
“It was one of those days, in my eyes,” Lock said. “We’re going to get back on track. We’re going to bust our butt in practice this week and get those guys back rolling. The offensive line is ready to go out there and kind of prove some of the negative things that have been said about them wrong, and I’m excited for them to go out there and show that.”
Fangio relayed some fond memories of production meetings with John Madden, the Hall of Fame NFL coach and broadcaster who died Tuesday at age 85.
“The thing I always respected about John as a broadcaster was that he did his job without being in attack mode,” Fangio said. “You know, even when he was second-guessing a player or a coach for something they may have done wrong or he disagreed with, he did it with a touch of class all the time and didn’t have venom in his approach. And I think that bought him a lot of friends and respect throughout the league.”
Notes: The Broncos activated C Lloyd Cushenberry III off the reserve/COVID-19 list and placed WR Tim Patrick, T Calvin Anderson and S Caden Sterns on the virus list along with practice squad WR Tyrie Cleveland.
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