ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –Monday night's trip to Atlanta didn't work out the way the Broncos would've hoped.
In losing 27-21, the team learned the hard way about how difficult it is to win when turning the ball over. With four turnovers in the first quarter, Denver found itself in an early 20-0 hole.
"I think in any game, you want to start fast and build off of that," wide receiver Brandon Stokley said. "We're no different. Obviously, we'd like to start better, and hopefully we will this week."
Upon returning home to prepare for Sunday's visit from the 2-0 Houston Texans, the Broncos were quick to pinpoint what went wrong and why against the Falcons – and more importantly, move on to the task at hand.
"I don't want to regress," safety Mike Adams said. "I want to move forward to the Texans, and that's where I'm at right now. … We made mistakes, we corrected them and we're going to move forward and look forward to beating the Texans."
The first-quarter turnovers did more than just put Atlanta in position to take an early lead. They also prevented Denver's offense from getting into a groove until it was too late.
"First, we have to eliminate turnovers," wide receiver Eric Decker said. "Secondly, just get into a rhythm. We never got into a rhythm first-quarter or first half. We finally found it in the first half, but again, it just starts by executing the plays. When we have a run called, get four or five yards. If we have a pass called, make sure we're in the right spot, we're catching the ball and we're throwing to the right guy. That's what we do well when we're doing well. When we're not, obviously we have some turnovers and we have to eliminate those."
Though the Broncos were frustrated with the costly miscues they made in the Georgia Dome, they're confident that they can correct them moving forward.
"We know what we did wrong," Decker said. "It's all correctable, which is a good thing. I think physically we matched up well. We had some mental errors and some things we didn't like, but again, you can learn off that. It's early in the season. (The Falcons) are a playoff contending team. We know we can bounce back and play a lot better and you have to against a great team in Houston."
While the offense looks to take better care of the football, the defense aims to get off the field on third down after Atlanta ran out the clock on the game's final possession with a crucial conversion.
"What I take from that game is as a defense, we have to get the ball when they're in their four-minute offense," linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. "We have to get the ball back for our offense and believe in them that they can score. That's the thing, to us, we feel like we let the team down by not getting off the field."
Through two games, the Broncos have been able to produce only one turnover. Linebacker Keith Brooking said the defense doesn't take its performance in that area lightly.
"We had an opportunity to get our hands on some balls and did not come up with them," Brooking said. "That was the one frustrating thing. Defensively we have to be opportunistic as well. If we're not last, we have to be really close to last in the league as far as turnover-ratio goes. We have to do a better job on that. It's not our offense taking care of the ball, it's the defense creating the turnovers and putting them in a good situation."
The lessons learned against Atlanta can't be disregarded. But the Broncos don't plan on dwelling them, either.
"It's important that we learn from the mistakes we made in the Atlanta game," Woodyard said. "But we have to have a 24-hour rule. We're focusing on the next opponent and we're just trying to continue to get better every week."