5 Broncos to blame for atrocious loss to Patriots on Christmas Eve

Who is to blame for the Denver Broncos' gut-wrenching loss on Christmas Eve?

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4. Pass rush

Part of what made the Broncos' defense so great during a nine-game stretch from Week 6 through Week 14 was the fact that they were rushing the passer exceptionally well. A couple of weeks ago, the Broncos lost their sack leader -- Nik Bonitto -- to a knee injury, and it's no coincidence that the team has had arguably its two worst game rushing the quarterback since then.

The pass rush got to Bailey Zappe on the first play from scrimmage in this game, but that success wasn't sustained throughout the game. The Broncos had just one more sack and four more QB hits on Zappe throughout the course of the game, and although they were able to make enough plays to get off the field on third downs (holding the Patriots to 3-of-13 in that category), the pass rush didn't come through in the moments it was needed the most.

And the Patriots offense took advantage of that.

5. Javonte Williams, RB

It appears as though Javonte Williams has hit a bit of a wall in his first season back from major knee surgery. Williams made a very quick comeback from an injury that looked like it could keep him out well into the 2023 season, but he's played all year and has even looked great at times out there.

But lately, it's been worse than tough sledding for the former second-round pick out of North Carolina. Williams is not breaking tackles, he's running directly into contact, he's droping passes, and he had a game-altering fumble in this one against the Patriots.

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On the team's first possession of the game, Williams got three carries from six yards out and failed to punch it in. It wasn't entirely bad from Williams in this game, but overall it was another poor performance from someone the Broncos need to be stepping up right now.

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