DENVER -- Paxton Lynch's first career start did not go as well as he hoped but the struggles were not all of his own making.
Starting for the injured Trevor Siemian, Lynch struggled to get on track and didn't get the Broncos into the end zone until connecting with Demaryius Thomas in the late going in Sunday's 23-16 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
"We get down by 13, something like that and we're struggling to protect him," Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. "We put him in a really tough situation."
Lynch completed 23 of 35 for 223 yards. He also had an interception and was sacked six times, including 3.5 times by linebacker Vic Beasley Jr.
Opposing quarterback Matt Ryan expressed empathy for Lynch over the rough outing he endured.
"It's very difficult and I know that first-hand," said Ryan. "Today, we were fortunate and had a good plan and got the ball out (quickly) for the most part. And that's what you have to do against a great defensive line. But as a young player for sure, it's tough. I've had many of those days where it doesn't go as planned. But for a young guy, he'll continue to bounce back and get better."
For his part, Lynch said it was a learning experience.
"I am upset, obviously, because we lost," Lynch said. "I am kind of happy that I got the first one under my belt. If I get put into that situation again, I will know how to handle it a little bit better than I did the first time."
--The Falcons made it a point to apply as much pressure as they could on the Broncos' rookie quarterback and for the most part, they succeeded.
Atlanta's pass rush racked up six sacks, including 3.5 by linebacker Vic Beasley Jr.
"I think it's coming together but we don't want to celebrate too soon," said Falcons defensive end Dwight Freeney, who also had a sack. "It's just this week, and we played great this game. Hopefully we can build momentum from this."
--A week after catching a dozen balls for 300 yards, Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had a relatively quiet day with two receptions for 29 yards.
Jones said he faced double teams most of the day, which was fine with him because it opened up possibilities for other play-makers on the Atlanta offense.
"They came out and doubled me. They basically took me away and said, 'You're not going to beat us today,'" said Jones. "That's fine, because if I'm taking two guys, then everybody else is going to step up. We have a lot of weapons."
--The Broncos don't have a lot of time to dwell on their first loss of the season. They have a quick turnaround, facing AFC West rival San Diego on the road in a game on Thursday night.
"It's football," wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. "I'm ready for whatever. We've got a division opponent and we've got to go out and handle business."
Added cornerback Aqib Talib: "We've done it before. You have to do it one time every year. I mean, every team in the league does it, and it's our turn to do it."
Kubiak said the availability of Siemian (left shoulder) remains uncertain.
"He's very close," Kubiak said. "He did everything he could for us all week long, but we had to make a decision. He tried to get there (against Atlanta). He worked extremely hard to get there. We just didn't think he was ready."