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Cover 4: Broncos' defense stymies Tua Tagovailoa, holds on late in 20-13 win

DENVER — Tua Tagovailoa made national headlines during a 3-0 start to his career.

After Sunday's game in Denver, perhaps the Broncos' defense will get some of the attention.

The Broncos held the Dolphins to 223 total yards and just three second-half points as Denver earned its second home win of the season and snapped a two-game skid.

Tagovailoa entered Sunday's game with a chance to become the first rookie quarterback since Ben Roethlisberger to win his first four starts. Instead, Head Coach Vic Fangio improved his record against rookie quarterbacks as a head coach or defensive coordinator to 18-8. Ryan Fitzpatrick nearly brought the Dolphins back after replacing Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter, but Denver held on for the win.

Drew Lock, meanwhile, recovered from a poor start to finish 18-of-30 for 270 yards. Only a late Melvin Gordon III goal-line fumble prevented the Broncos winning by multiple scores.

Justin Simmons secured a late interception in the end zone to save the win.

These were the players and plays that mattered in a 20-13 win over the previously 6-3 Miami Dolphins:

Game-changing moment

The Broncos didn't secure the win until late in the game on Simmons' interception, but the game swung on Denver's third possession of the game. To that point, Denver had tallied just one yard, and Drew Lock was 0-for-5 with an interception that set up a Miami touchdown.

On the team's third possession, that changed. On third-and-10 from Denver's 27-yard line, Lock found Hamler down the seam for a 15-yard gain that moved the chains for the first time and kick-started the Broncos' offense. Denver pieced together an 11-play, 73-yard touchdown drive on the possession, and Lock rebounded from a tough start.

After starting 0-for-6, he completed 18 of his next 24 passes for 270 yards and no interceptions. There were questions about Lock's ability to bounce back from a few bad performances. On that first-quarter third down, he showed his ability to keep the Broncos alive.

Defining statistic


After failing to record a sack in a blowout loss to the Raiders, the Broncos offered Tua Tagovailoa his welcome-to-the-NFL moment. Tagovailoa was sacked six times, including twice apiece by Malik Reed and DeShawn Williams. The Broncos' defensive efforts were aided by their ability to consistently keep the Dolphins in third-and-long scenarios, and they forced five three-and-outs in Sunday's game. The Dolphins totaled just 82 yards in the first half, and they were held to three points in the second half.

Memorable highlight

Melvin Gordon III recorded a pair of rushing touchdowns on Sunday as he reached seven total touchdowns on the season, and his 20-yard score to push the Broncos' lead to 20-10 was the more impressive of the two. Gordon cut through an open hole, and there was no defender within several yards of him as he bounded into the end zone to extend the Broncos' margin.

Top performers

Malik Reed recorded 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hits and two tackles for loss while DeShawn Williams posted two sacks of his own.

Melvin Gordon III carried the ball 15 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns, and his day was hampered only by a goal-line fumble. Phillip Lindsay added 82 yards on 16 carries.

Drew Lock responded from an early interception to finish 18-of-30 for 270 yards.

Justin Simmons saved the game with an end-zone interception with 1:03 to play in the game.

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