Highs and lows that rookie quarterbacks face as part of their learning process are something Drew Lock experienced at extreme levels in his last two starts for the Denver Broncos.
Lock can put that experience – good and bad -- to use in Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions in Denver.
It will be Lock's fourth straight start since Broncos head coach Vic Fangio made the second-round draft pick from Missouri the starter for the rest of the season in Week 13.
He is the third quarterback to start for Denver this year. Joe Flacco went out for the season with a neck injury after starting the first eight games. Brandon Allen started the next three.
Predictably, Lock has had mixed results in his first three starts. He won his first two -- 23-20 at home over the Chargers and 38-24 on the road over the Texans -- before last week's 23-3 road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Lock's performance against the Texans was his high point. He completed 22 of 27 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked once, had one interception, and had a passer rating of 136 for the game.
The Broncos jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and extended it to 31-3 at halftime. Lock threw all three of his TD passes in the first half.
"We were ready to rock and roll from the get go," Lock told reporters after the game.
The Broncos' first offensive play of the game was a short completion to rookie tight end Noah Fant that went for a 44-yard gain. Lock finished off the possession with a 14-yard TD pass to Fant.
It was a different story last week against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Lock and the entire offense struggled all day on a snowy field in below freezing temperatures.
Lock completed 18 of 40 passes for 208 yards with one interception. His 50.8 passer rating for the game was 85.2 points lower than his rating against Houston.
Lock's interception provided a painful teaching point. The Broncos had first down at Kansas City's 11, with a chance to cut into KC's 23-3 lead. Lock threw a pass over the middle that was intercepted in the end zone by Juan Thornhill.
"That pick is definitely on me," Lock told reporters. "I definitely tried to force something to happen there."
Lock was sidelined for almost three months after going on injured reserve with a thumb injury sustained in the preseason. He returned to practice Nov. 11 and played against the Chargers on Dec. 1.
Offensive leaders, sizing up: Running back Phillip Linday and wide receiver Courtland Sutton do their jobs as leaders on the Broncos' offense, but they couldn't be more different in size and how they were acquired.
Sutton, 6-4 and 216 pounds, is their leading receiver with 63 catches for 1,019 yards and six TDs and an average of 16.2 yards per catch. He was a second-round pick in 2018 out of Southern Methodist.
Lindsay, 5-8 and 190 pounds, made the roster in 2018 as an undrafted free agent out of Colorado. Despite missing the last game with a wrist injury he rushed for 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns, with an average of 5.4 yards per attempt. He made the Pro Bowl.
His production is down somewhat this year – 849 yards rushing, six TDs and 4.5 yards per carry. That's almost a full yard less than last year.
Meet this week's opponents, the Denver Broncos.
Broncos rebuild: If the Broncos win their last two games they'll finish with a 7-9 won-loss record under first-year head coach Vic Fangio. It will be their best record since they went 9-7 in 2016. The Broncos close out the season at home against the Oakland Raiders.
Fangio was a noted defensive coordinator who spent the last four seasons with the Lions' NFC North rival Chicago Bears.
The defense has shown some improvement under Fangio, allowing 20.3 points per game compared to 21.8 and 23.9 the last two seasons.