DENVER —** Paxton Lynch came away from his first NFL start disappointed.
Though the rookie was excited to take the field in his first regular-season home game, the Broncos had dropped their first game of the season — their first loss since Dec. 20, 2015. There were some good plays and no-so-good plays, but Lynch was frustrated with the end result.
"I'm upset, obviously, because we lost," Lynch said. "But I'm kind of happy that I got the first one under my belt — my first start with these guys — and had a chance to play with them. So if I get put into that situation again, I'll know how to handle it a little bit better than I did the first time. I'm glad I got the experience but I'm also upset we didn't come away with the win."
Lynch said he had some butterflies at the start of the game, but added that they went away quickly once he got on the field.
"You know, it's not a preseason game and your team is 4-0, so you're excited about that," Lynch said. "But you've just got to focus on the team and winning the ballgame. After that first drive, I was ready to go and ready to play with those guys."
Trevor Siemian, who was inactive for Sunday's game as he recovers from a left-shoulder injury, knows how Lynch feels. Though Siemian has not lost a game as a starting quarterback, he definitely knows the growing pains that come in making a first career start. After all, his was just over four weeks ago.
"I thought he did well," Siemian said in the locker room after the game. "I thought he did a lot of good things, some things to build on. Any time you're out there, it's a learning experience. I went through the same thing, so I know exactly how it goes. I thought he did some good things."
It was a rough-and-tumble game for the rookie, who couldn't escape from six sacks but gained 18 yards on the ground by scrambling. He threw for 223 yards on 23-of-35 passing with a touchdown, but also had an interception and two fumbles, though the Broncos recovered each loose ball.
What might have been most frustrating for Lynch was that the Falcons defense didn't throw anything at him that left him feeling unprepared.
"We kind of knew what they were going to do coming in," Lynch said. "Scheme-wise, I don't think they did a lot of different stuff. They just kind of let you take what was underneath and take it that way and run the ball on them. So, I think overall as a team, we didn't play as well as we should have to win the game, and we didn't."
Head Coach Gary Kubiak shouldered the blame and said the staff did not put Lynch in a position to succeed because Atlanta took the lead early in the first quarter.
The Broncos lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 23-16, at home. (Photos by Eric Bakke, unless noted)
"We have to help him better, us as coaches," Kubiak said. "We got down early in the game. We were committed to running the ball today and tried to do that early. We did not run the ball well. We get down by 13, something like that, and were struggling to protect him. We put him in a really tough situation. That's not the type of game you want to put him in."
With a quick turnaround for the Broncos' next game, a Thursday night road trip to San Diego, Lynch is focused on adjusting once he watches the film with his coaches and then preparing like he always does.
"We'll watch the film and after I watch the film, then I'll hear it from my coaches what I need to be better at and what I need to correct this week," Lynch said.
"I'm just going to keep approaching it like I've been approaching it: taking it day by day and if my number gets called again, then I'm going to make sure I'm ready to go out there and play," he added. "But if my number isn't called, I'm going to make sure to be ready to play if I have to go back in the game again."