AFP/Washington, United States
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock apologised Sunday for a “masking slip” that left his NFL team with no signal callers in a 31-3 loss to New Orleans.
Practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton was pressed into duty as an emergency quarterback, completing only 1-of-9 passes for 13 yards with two interceptions and a sack for the Saints defensive unit in the rout.
New Orleans improved to 8-2 while the Broncos slid to 4-7, mustering only 112 total yards against the Saints as Covid-19 created a competitive imbalance issue too huge to overcome.
Denver quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday and the Broncos’ three other quarterbacks — Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles — were ruled out Saturday as “high risk” close contacts with Driskel.
Lock admitted the passers, who have not shown Covid-19 symptoms, did not follow proper face mask protocol while in a meeting together.
“In a controlled and socially distanced area, we let our masking slip for a limited amount of time,” he tweeted. “An honest mistake, but one I will own.
“I sincerely apologise and I fully understand why these safety precautions are so important. Doing the right thing for a majority of the time is not good enough.”
Broncos defensive back Kareem Jackson said he was frustrated and thought the NFL might be making an example of the team by forcing it to play Sunday.
“Maybe the league was making an example of us as far as maybe not doing the things we needed to do,” Jackson said.
“Obviously the guys didn’t follow their protocols and for (the league) to see that, I guess they felt like they had to make an example... at least maybe move the game to the next day or whenever, so we’re given a fighting chance.”
Denver’s hopes for a winning season are bleak with a visit to reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City next week, and a finish to the season against Carolina, Buffalo, the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas.
“I was disappointed on a couple levels that our quarterbacks put us in this position, that our quarterbacks put the league in that position,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said.
“Those guys made a mistake and that’s disappointing. Obviously, I haven’t done a good enough job of selling the protocols to them.”
Hinton, a rookie, said he felt a mix of nerves and disbelief when told he would serve as quarterback, saying he had no idea what the speed of the NFL was like.
“We knew it would be a tough situation for sure,” he said.
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