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Some good, bad - and slightly ugly - in Broncos' 14-10 win

The Denver Broncos' defense looks more than good, and the first-string offense doesn't quite look bad, but some penalties and rusty play made for a slightly ugly (or at least not very pretty) win against the Houston Texans.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it wasn't spectacular.

Some will venture to describe that offense as "not good."

A few (not on here, of course, right?) might even panic about the Peyton Manning-led offense that went three-and-out on the 2015 debut drive and could do nothing more than punt in all of its four possessions.

But the doubters would be missing the bigger picture - it's preseason, it was a win, and it will get better.

And it also featured a couple unlikely heroes in Trevor Siemian and Corbin Louks who combined for the comeback score to give the Broncos' a perfect preseason record so far.

(Oh, and the defense actually is - or very soon will be - spectacular ... so, not to worry, Broncos Country).

"Sure you would like to score four touchdowns in four possessions, but I thought we did some no huddle, which is something we have been working on with this offense during training camp, and I thought we executed that pretty well as far as communications," said Manning, who completed just 8 of 14 passes for 52 yards, including a pair of 11-yard throws to Demaryius Thomas and Owen Daniels.

Coach Gary Kubiak seemed mostly unconcerned with his "ones" struggles, noting that dropped passes on third downs and penalties killed some potentially good drives and calling Manning's work Saturday night "fine."

That's not exactly convincing, but the coach highlighted that the struggle can't be solely placed on Manning.

The last few weeks have been great for the young Bennie Fowler, and I believe he has earned himself a spot on the 53 man roster.   -Gary Kubiak on his three quarterbacks

"We didn't help him in a couple of situations. On third down, we had a couple of big drops on the three or four series that he played," Kubiak said. "But I thought he was sharp in running the group and running the no huddle for the first time out. We've just got to grow off of that and come back next week and play a little bit more."

And in case you think there's a quarterback controversy in Denver, just stop.

Brock Osweiler and Ronnie Hillman took over in the second quarter and showed some promise in the first drive, but it was a pair of Houston penalties that moved the chains and kept the Broncos offense on the field. Osweiler capitalized on that good fortune with a stunning 57-yard pass that dropped effortlessly into the unlikely hands of Andre Caldwell.

"Brock came in and made some good plays. I thought he missed some too," Kubiak said of his No. 2 who finished with 7 of 16 completions, a touchdown drive and an unfortunate interception late in the third quarter.

The welcome surprise of the night was the increased potential that is showing up in rookie QB Trevor Siemian.

"And then the young kid (Siemian), he spins the ball really well," Kubiak added. "We knew that coming out. It's just a question of if all the other pieces can maybe fall in to place. He's very calm, so we'll see, but he's making a lot of progress."

That "progress" included one of the game's two real offensive flashes - a 92-yard drive capped off by a 26-yard touchdown pass to Corbin Louks to pull the Broncos ahead 14-10 with just 1:44 left in the game.

A sack from Shaquil Barrett on Houston's Tom Savage sealed the final score, putting the Broncos at 2-0 in the preseason.

"A win's a win, and it feels good to win. It doesn't matter if it's preseason or not," said running back C.J. Anderson.

For a lot of our first-time starters, those guys were poised out there. I thought the protection was good the whole time I was in. If you can do some no-huddle, you have a chance to tire out the defense and hopefully slowed down their pass rush.  -Peyton Manning on the offensive line

But, of course, it does matter a little because despite the W, there's a lot of work to be done before Week 1.

"I'm pleased with a lot of things that we are doing, but I'm very disappointed with what we're doing right now short yardage wise," Kubiak said, noting a "one-for-five" stat on third down conversions. "That's staying on the field, that's 15 or 20 more plays. That's the disappointing part."

But Kubiak likes what he is seeing so far in the running game and the continued improvement by the young offensive line.

"We're going to have some growing pains but we're just going to watch them continue to get better," he said. "I think we did some things better tonight and obviously we've got a lot of things we've got to improve on."

Rookie tackle Ty Sambrailo had a penalty early, but overall the former Ram feels good about the direction he's going in his NFL education.

"I feel like I'm doing alright," Sambrailo said. "I think a lot of it has to do with how the guys around me are playing. I think as a unit, we're doing real well. Just getting better every week."

I think we probably slowed into things, but we can start faster as an offense, and we'll be fine.  -C.J. Anderson

Omitting penalties on both sides of the ball would be on that improvement list.

"Yeah, that happens, that happens," said Anderson of some holding penalties that called back a few gains. "We can clean up some of that. Some of that is on me making the right cut. I think we can start faster as an offense. I think we probably slowed into things, but we can start faster as an offense and we'll be fine."

Anderson also thinks having the starting offense play together longer next week will help the process.

"I know that [Manning] was out there, and he wanted to be out there longer, just like myself. I think when we got comfortable and ready to roll with the first unit, they pulled our cards, but that happens," Anderson said. "We'll get a lot more reps next week; we know that. All we can do is continue to keep pushing, continue to keep growing and hopefully we'll be fine-tuned and get all the tweaks out of the way before Week 1."

Manning did connect with Thomas and Daniels on a few nice plays that hint of good things to come the more game time they have together.

"He's a fine player," Kubiak said of Daniels, the veteran tight end he drafted while at the Texans and has had on his teams ever since. "He knows what he's doing. He knows how to beat coverage, very smart. I think he's going to be a good fit the more he and Peyton play together, the better they'll be."

Coming from everywhere, that's the good thing. We're a very consistent defense. The thing that's disappointing is we're giving up penalties that help people extend drives.   -Kubiak on defensive penalties

While the defense once again showed some stellar play - such as five more sacks from six different players in the game, 11 hits on the quarterback, six passes defensed and a fourth-quarter goal-line stand on fourth down - penalties were still an unwanted presence.

The Broncos defense accounted for four of the team's eight penalties and 40 yards. Noting the defense's depth and potential, Kubiak called the cost yards "disappointing."

"Coming from everywhere, that's the good thing. We're a very consistent defense. The thing that's most disappointing is we're giving up penalties that help people extend drives. So that's something that we've got to improve upon," the coach said, noting the personal foul and pass interference calls in particular that cost the team some big stops. "But I think we're deep on defense, and that's a good thing. We'll keep fresh people on the field, and hopefully we can stay after the quarterback."

That seems highly likely given the past two games. Rookies Shane Ray and Chuka Ndulue combined for a sack while Barrett, rookie Darius Kilgo, Kayvon Webster and Sylvester Williams each added one on the night.

Von Miller noted the difference between last season and the current one, despite having a talented group of players both years.

"I think more with Coach Phillips, we just don't sit around and wait for stuff to happen," said Miller, who had a quiet night with one tackle assist. "With Coach Phillips, you going to go out there and manufacture a play, and that's what I like about the defense."

DeMarcus Ware praised the young guys who stepped up at the end of the game to stop the Texans offense and then keep the lead after Siemian engineered a comeback drive late in the fourth.

"It really showed that guys weren't giving up because we were down and the offense went out there and scored, put everything on the defense's back and said hey, you have to go out there and close the game," Ware said. "That's what it's going to take for this season to get through."