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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Jon Heath

5 takeaways from Broncos’ loss to Texans

The Denver Broncos lost to the Houston Texans 22-17 on Sunday in a heartbreaking defeat that snapped the team’s five-game winning streak. Here are five quick takeaways from Denver’s first loss since October.

P.J. Locke continues to shine

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

P.J. Locke had another impressive performance on Sunday, totaling eight tackles (including two behind the line), one quarterback hit and one sack. Locke has two pass breakups, two sacks, one interception and one forced fumble over the last five games. Locke should remain a starter even after Kareem Jackson returns from his four-game suspension.

Alex Singleton has to be smarter

Alex Singleton made a huge blunder in the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Texans. Houston was about to be facing a 4th-and-7 with a three-point lead until Singleton was penalized for pushing quarterback C.J. Stroud after the whistle had blown. Stroud initiated the beef by headbutting Singleton — and that probably should have been penalized — but Singleton can only control his own actions and he should not have retaliated. Gifted a first down, the Texans went on to score a touchdown. If that drive had ended in three points instead of seven, Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson could have led a game-winning field goal drive in the fourth quarter instead of attempting to throw a touchdown pass at the end of the game.

That might have been Russell Wilson's worst game of the season

After going five games without an interception during Denver’s winning streak, Russell Wilson fell back to earth in Houston. Wilson’s passes were off from the start of the game as he struggled to connect on deep throws. Wilson also missed a wide open Jerry Jeudy more than once, including on a play that could have been a game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Wilson also significantly underthrew a deep pass to Marvin Mims (that play should have been ruled pass interference, but it would have been a touchdown if Wilson threw a better pass). Those missed throws combined with Wilson’s three interceptions proved to be costly on Sunday.

Denver's turnover luck ran out in Houston

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Not every turnover involves luck — punching the ball out isn’t luck, but recovering the fumble can be. Denver did not have the ball bounce their way on Sunday’s one fumble, and Wilson coughed the ball up three times to give the Broncos a minus-three turnover differential against the Texans. Denver dominated the turnover battle during its winning streak, and that domination came to an end on Sunday.

The playoff race just got a lot tighter

(Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

The Broncos can still make the playoffs this season, but it will be a lot tougher after they dropped to 3-5 in the conference on Sunday. Denver is currently the AFC’s ninth seed and the Texans (7-5) have a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Broncos now. The Colts (7-5) also won on Sunday and the Buffalo Bills (6-6) and Cincinnati Bengals (5-6) aren’t dead yet. Denver does have a head-to-head win over the Cleveland Browns (7-4), and the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4) lost in Week 13, but Denver will face an uphill battle to get into the postseason.

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