Denver Broncos' Teddy Bridgewater leaves game vs. Baltimore Ravens with concussion

DENVER -- Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, whose play, leadership and calm under pressure had been credited as a key part of the Broncos' 3-0 start, sustained a concussion during Sunday's 23-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Denver's first of the season.

Bridgewater --- who took several big hits in the opening half, including on his last pass attempt before halftime -- was evaluated for a concussion at the half before officially being ruled out in the third quarter.

Bridgewater is now in the concussion protocol and must advance through several steps -- including exams from a third-party physician in addition to the team's medical staff -- before he can first return to conditioning drills, then non-contact position drills, then fully to practice. It's a process that, at minimum, even if Bridgewater is suffering no ill-effects this week, would take several days before he could practice with the team.

"I just saw him -- he says he's getting better as the day goes on,'' Broncos coach Vic Fangio said immediately following Sunday's game. "We'll see.''

The Broncos play at Pittsburgh next Sunday.

Bridgewater, who has been consistently lauded for his work on and off the field in the Broncos' undefeated September, suffered the injury on the team's last play from scrimmage in the first half. On a third-and-10 from the Broncos' 17-yard line with 53 seconds left in the half, Bridgewater was hit by Ravens linebacker Odafe Oweh on an incompletion.

Bridgewater had already taken multiple big hits in the game, including one that knocked his helmet off in the first quarter.

"I saw Teddy on the ground, he didn't look too well,'' left tackle Garett Bolles said. "I saw Drew [Lock] warming up. ... I love Teddy dearly, I hope it's not too bad. I talked to him a little bit.''

Bridgewater entered Sunday as the league leader in completion percentage. His second-quarter touchdown pass to tight end Noah Fant gave him five TD passes without a turnover this season.

Because of injuries, the Broncos started backups at both guard spots against the Ravens -- second-year player Netane Muti on the right side and rookie Quinn Meinerz on the left -- and Baltimore's defense kept the heat on for most of the day. Bridgewater was sacked twice before his injury and Lock was sacked three times in the second half.

"Protection is a lot of a people involved in that ... it was a multifaceted operation and I'm sure we had breakdowns across the board,'' Fangio said.

Lock said he was told that Bridgewater would not be returning to the game just before the team left the locker room for the start of the third quarter. Lock was 12-of-21 passing for 113 yards and an interception.

Bridgewater and Lock had spent much of the offseason and training camp in a competition for the starting job. But Bridgewater steadily kept leading the team on scoring drives, and Fangio named him the starter just before the preseason finale.

Lock was the Broncos' starter in 2020 and finished last in the league in completion percentage. He was also tied for the league lead in interceptions.