Mistakes drag Broncos down to 0-3 for first time since 1999

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With two of their three turnovers deep in their own territory and both leading to Green Bay Packers touchdowns, the Denver Broncos dropped to 0-3 for the first time since 1999 with a 27-16 loss at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

Or, just to toss in a little perspective about where the Broncos find themselves, that was the year after their top football decision-maker -- John Elway -- ended his Hall of Fame playing career.

Describe the game in two words: Mistake-prone. The Broncos continue to wander the Land of Losing Team Gaffes. If it’s not a penalty at the worst time, it’s a missed assignment. If it’s not a call they don’t agree with by an official when it hurts the most -- see: second-quarter holding penalty on Emmanuel Sanders or third-quarter or no-touchdown call on Courtland Sutton -- it’s somebody putting the ball on the ground (they had two fumbles Sunday).

At times the Broncos look to be the tough-minded, resilient team that could scrap with most anybody Vic Fangio vowed to coach, but at other times they look like they’re just looking for more ways to hand games away like house-warming gifts.

Biggest hole in the game plan: It’s not that they haven’t tried to pump up the proverbial volume on offense, but the Broncos simply have to do everything the hard way right now because they can’t consistently protect quarterback Joe Flacco.

Their three scoring drives against the Packers were 15, 15 and 12 plays. That is simply going the long way far too often, but when they try to go for a little more, with routes that take a little longer to develop, they put Flacco in harm’s way with pass protection that is spotty at best. The Packers had one of their four sacks with a three-man rush Sunday.

Troubling trend: Oh, it’s evolving from trend to full-scale dilemma. The Broncos still don’t have a sack or a forced turnover by their defense in three games. With three turnovers of their own Sunday, the Broncos are now minus-4 in turnover margin for the season, a recipe that usually results in losses, especially when you turn it over at the Packers’ 5-yard line and the Packers’ 37-yard line as the Broncos did.

QB breakdown: Flacco finished Sunday’s loss with two turnovers next to his name -- a lost fumble and an interception -- and both stung plenty. He can help in pass protection by consistently getting the ball out on time, but the Broncos won’t get to see what he can or can’t do down the field until they can consistently make a pocket for him to stand in.

Pivotal play: In a game when the Broncos had battled through a rough start to tie it 10-10 in the second quarter and had the ball to do even a little more with 2 minutes, 27 seconds left in the first half, Flacco was sacked by Packers linebacker Preston Smith and fumbled. The Packers recovered at the Broncos’ 7-yard line, scored on the next play and never trailed.