CARSON, Calif. — The NFL’s longest streak without a shutout ended Sunday at the StubHub Center, and Trevor Siemian said he didn’t have to look far as he searched for answers.
The Broncos lacked rhythm, Siemian said. And that begins with the game’s most important position.
“A lot of that’s on me,” said Siemian after a 21-0 loss that dropped the Broncos to 3-3. “I thought especially early on, I didn’t do enough to get us going. I’ve got to figure it out because we’ve got a big one coming up against Kansas City, obviously.”
The Broncos struggled to find that sustained success all afternoon in Los Angeles. Denver possessed the ball on 13 different occasions Sunday — and just twice did they assemble a drive of seven plays or more. Neither of the two drives gained more than 48 yards.
Denver also put together a pair of six-play drives, but they mustered just 40 yards combined.
Siemian didn't lose the game for the Broncos on Sunday — he finished 25-of-35 for 207 yards and an interception — but he was unable to do enough to help them win it.
Los Angeles wasn’t much better, as the Chargers also sustained just two drives of more than seven plays. But both of those possessions ended in touchdowns, and that was enough to make the difference in the game.
The Broncos’ offensive problems may have been most evident Sunday, but they’ve manifested themselves over the past several weeks. Dating back to a Week 4 matchup with Oakland, the Broncos have scored just one touchdown in their last 36 drives.
Part of that stems from starting field position; the Broncos began four of their 13 drives from inside the 10-yard line and two more from inside the 20.
“That’s just the way it works,” Siemian said. “When you’re there, you’ve got to find a way to get a first down, right, and flip the field. We didn’t do that enough, because then you’re battling field position for most of the game. We didn’t get it done there.”
But when Siemian searched for the differences between the first two weeks of success and the unit’s recent slump, he pointed to early downs as an area in which the Broncos need to improve.
“I just feel like we haven’t been really good on first and second down, and third downs have gotten tougher for us,” Siemian said. “I thought that was one of the things we hung our hat on early on.”
At times against Los Angeles, the Broncos found ways to keep third downs manageable. In the first quarter, they faced a pair of third downs of at least 7 yards but they also converted a third-and-4 and set up a third-and-1.
As the game progressed, though, Siemian and Denver found themselves facing a third-and-22, two third-and-10s, a third-and-11 and a third-and-18. They did not convert any of those five opportunities.
During the few moments that suggested the Broncos could find success, they were hit with inopportune penalties — or by Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and Chris McCain.
The trio wound up with five sacks, and McCain also forced a pair of fumbles.
Still, the Broncos seemed poised to cut the lead to seven points when Demaryius Thomas took a pass 81 yards into the red zone.
Thomas, though, was called for offensive pass interference, and the big play came back.
“It stinks, obviously,” Siemian said. “That’s a big play for us, especially when he hadn’t gotten anything going. Those guys have a tough job. I always think you err on the side of letting guys play and figure it out, but those guys have a tough job, too.”
Regardless of where the problems begin, Siemian and the Broncos know they must be focused on finding a solution. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, and that begins with a trip to Kansas City to visit the AFC West’s leader.
“We’re right where we’re at,” Siemian said. “We’re 3-3 for a reason. We’ve played in some tough games. These last two weeks, we haven’t gotten it done. I’ve got to play better, though, that’s the bottom line. The last two weeks I haven’t played good enough for us to win.
“When [I’m] the quarterback and [I] touch it every play, I need to be better.”