NFL Preseason Week 3 Game Recap: Denver Broncos 17, Los Angeles Rams 12

Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) prepares to pass in the first quarter during a preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos completed their unbeaten preseason Saturday night with a 17-12 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Rams.

Denver’s defense continued its dominance during the preseason, as it didn't allow a touchdown for the third straight contest, while the offense did just enough to secure the win with touchdown passes from both Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock.

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Denver Broncos

Quarterback Dropbacks Yards Per Attempt  Average Depth of Target Completion Percentage
Teddy Bridgewater 11 5.6 6.3 54.5%
Drew Lock 10 8.4 15.1 62.5%
Brett Rypien 7 2.4 8.2 42.9%

Bridgewater started at quarterback for Denver, leading two scoring drives in his three possessions under center. He threw for 62 yards on six completions in 11 attempts. The seventh-year signal-caller struggled to start the contest, completing just one of his first six attempts, but came alive in the Broncos' third drive, going 5-for-5, which included a touchdown strike to wide receiver Courtland Sutton. Bridgewater was not asked to push the ball far downfield, as he averaged just 5.6 yards per attempt with a 6.3-yard average depth of target. He did, however, protect the ball (zero turnover-worthy throws) and finish the night with a 65.1 overall offensive grade.

Lock followed, submitting a unit-high 74.1 overall offensive grade and 70.3 passing grade after finishing with 67 yards through the air on just five completions from seven attempts, which included a seven-yard touchdown to tight end Austin Fort. The third-year signal-caller was able to move the ball quickly down the field, leading the team in yards per attempt (8.4), average depth of target (15.1) and air yard percentage (83.6%). He also didn't have a single turnover-worthy pass.

Brett Rypien was the Broncos’ third and final quarterback Saturday night, and he was by far Denver's least successful, as the third-year quarterback finished with just 17 yards on three completions in seven attempts while earning a 65 overall offensive grade and 55.4 passing grade.

Running Backs

Melvin Gordon III was the star of the Broncos' first-team offense, averaging seven yards a carry on just five attempts in his first preseason action of the year. He was able to collect three first downs in his limited playing time, amassing 26 of his 35 yards after contact. His three forced missed tackles led all Denver running backs, as he earned a game-high 83.0 rushing grade.

Gordon was replaced at lead back by Royce Freeman, who was far less successful with nine yards earned in his five attempts. He was able to force only one missed tackle, as 40% of his attempts resulted in either no gain or a loss of yards.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Receiver Receiving snaps Targets  Receptions  Yards/Yards After Catch 
Damarea Crockett 12 1 0 0/0
Courtland Sutton 11 3 2 27/2
Albert Okwuegbunam 10 4 3 23/14
Kendall Hinton 10 1 1 14/1
Tim Patrick 10 2 0 0/0
Trinity Benson 9 3 2 34/0
Austin Fort 9 1 1 7/1
Tyrie Cleveland 8 2 0 0/0
Shaun Beyer 8 1 1 9/12
Seth Williams 7 0 0 0/0
Eric Saubert 7 1 1 20/15
Royce Freeman 6 0 0 0/0
Stevie Scott III 5 1 1 2/3
Jerry Jeudy 5 0 0 0/0
Andrew Beck 5 1 0 0/0
Diontae Spencer 4 0 0 0/0
De'Mornay Pierson-El 4 2 1 6/8
Melvin Gordon III 4 1 1 4/2

After missing all but one game of the 2020 season, Sutton made his triumphant return to the field Saturday, catching two passes for 27 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown from Bridgewater. Sutton’s 2.45 yards per route run was second among all Denver wide receivers while his 134.7 wide receiver rating was the best between both teams.

Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was yet another Bronco who made his preseason debut Saturday, leading all Denver pass catchers with three receptions for 23 yards. The emphasis to get Okwuegbunam the ball in space was obvious, as the second-year tight end was targeted on 40% of his routes run while his 14 yards after the catch was second-highest among all Broncos pass catchers.

Offensive Line

Denver’s projected starting group of Garett Bolles, Dalton Risner, Lloyd Cushenberry III, Graham Glasgow and Bobby Massie played together for the team’s first two drives, facilitating the run game to the tune of 7.5 yards per carry while not allowing a sack in six pass-blocking opportunities.

Massie was the standout of the group, accruing a 90.1 overall offensive grade, which was thanks in large part to a team-high 92.2 run-blocking grade.

Defensive Line

Pass-rush production from Denver's edge defenders

Defender Pass-Rushing Snaps Total Pressures Sacks 
Andre Mintze 25 4 0
Derrek Tuszka 24 2 0
Jonathon Cooper 22 0 0
Marquiss Spencer 13 1 1
Malik Reed 13 0 0
Von Miller 12 0 0
Bradley Chubb 11 1 0

Denver’s defensive line stymied Los Angeles on the ground and through the air, holding the Rams running attack to an average of just -0.208 estimated points added (EPA) per play while collecting 15 total pressures and two quarterback sacks.

Interior defender Shelby Harris led the team with an 86.0 overall defensive grade in just 12 snaps while interior defender Dre’Mont Jones amassed three total pressures en route to a team-high 90.2 pass-rush grade.


Denver’s linebacker corps was dominant throughout Saturday’s contest, controlling both the Los Angeles rushing and passing attack to the tune of 4.1 yards per play with a -0.181 EPA.

Alexander Johnson paced the unit with a 68.0 run defense grade in just eight run defense snaps while Josey Jewell collected the Broncos' lone sack to earn a unit best 74.7 pass-rushing grade.


The Broncos secondary was in mid-season form from the opening possession Saturday, limiting the Rams passing attack to just 54.8 yards per attempt with a -0.165 EPA.

Cornerback Bryce Callahan led the team with one forced incompletion while earning an impressive 71.0 coverage grade, and third-year pro P.J. Locke bested all safeties with a 71.5 coverage grade.

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Los Angeles Rams 

Quarterback Dropbacks Yards Per Attempt  Average Depth of Target Completion Percentage
Bryce Perkins 57 4.6 8.8 53.3%

Bryce Perkins was the only Rams quarterback to play Saturday, going 23 of 42 for 201 yards with neither a touchdown nor interception. While his 53.4 overall offensive grade and 52.0 passing grades were both personal lows this preseason, Perkins did earn a team-high 61.2 rushing grade, as he led the team with 50 yards on the ground.

Much of Perkins' struggles came because of his limited time in the pocket, as the second-year pro was forced to scramble nine times while succumbing to three sacks. Yet, there were still multiple bright spots in Perkins’ performance Saturday, as the former Virginia Cavalier failed to submit any turnover-worthy plays while averaging a personal-high 8.8 yards per target.

Running Backs

Xavier Jones handled the majority of the running back snaps for Los Angeles, finishing with 44 yards on 13 carries to go along with his 20 receiving yards on three catches. Jones paced all Rams players with four missed tackles, culminating in a 50.8 overall offensive grade.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Receiver Receiving snaps Targets  Receptions  Yards/Yards After Catch 
Trishton Jackson 56 6 4 52/8
J.J. Koski 55 5 1 5/0
Tutu Atwell 52 13 8 62/17
Xavier Jones 37 4 3 20/25
Jacob Harris 24 3 0 0/0
Brycen Hopkins 18 2 2 16/16
Otis Anderson 15 3 2 16/27
Kendall Blanton 14 4 3 30/5
Jeremiah Haydel 3 1 1 4/-2

Wide receiver Tutu Atwell was the Rams' best pass-catcher Saturday night, leading the team in both receptions and yards with eight and 62 respectively. His 8.2-yard average depth of target was second among all wide receivers, and he finished with a 52.2 receiving grade.

Tight end Brycen Hopkins led all Rams pass catchers with a 67.6 receiving grade, leading Los Angeles tight ends in both yards after contact (11) and forced missed tackles (two). Hopkins also finished with the highest overall offensive grade of any Los Angeles skill position player, earning a 70.6 overall offensive grade in 29 snaps.

Offensive Line

Los Angeles’ offensive line was overmatched for much of Saturday’s contest, allowing 20 total pressures and two sacks. The unit was only slightly better in the run game, as the team averaged 4.2 yards per carry while succumbing to only three tackles for loss.

Tackle Alaric Jackson was the backup-laden offensive line's standout, as he finished with a team-best 83.4 overall grade to go along with a game-high 87.3 pass-blocking grade. Guard Chandler Brewer also submitted a strong performance Saturday, earning a team-high 83.8 run-blocking grade.

Defensive Line

Pass-rush production from Los Angeles' edge defenders

Defender Pass-Rushing Snaps Total Pressures Sacks 
Terrell Lewis 15 1 0
Chris Garrett 12 2 0
Justin Lawler 8 0 0
John Daka 8 0 0
Earnest Brown IV 7 1 0

Los Angeles’ defensive line performed admirably throughout Saturday’s showdown, holding Denver to an average of just 3.6 yards per carry and a -0.137 average EPA per rushing play.

Interior defender Michael Hoecht was the highest-graded member of the unit, finishing with an 81.8 overall defensive grade and a 78.5 pass-rush grade. Edge defender Chris Garrett earned the highest run-defense grade (65.0) of the unit in his 26 snaps.


The Rams linebackers may have been the team's strongest unit Saturday night, as they allowed an average of 4.4 yards per play with an average EPA per play of -0.185.

Micah Kiser was arguably the Rams' most impressive performer on either side of the ball Saturday, earning a game-high 91.7 overall defensive grade to go along with his game-high 87.3 coverage grade.


Los Angeles’ secondary was characteristically impressive Saturday, surrendering just 146 passing yards with a -0.246 average EPA.

Safety Juju Hughes got the start for Los Angeles and submitted an excellent performance en route to a unit-best 85 overall defensive grade. Cornerback Kareem Orr led all defensive backs with a 39.6 passer rating allowed while finishing with a 68.8 coverage grade — the best among the Rams corners.


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