The Denver Broncos opened their first preseason game on the road against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. John Fox was fired from the Broncos after the 2014 season and moved on immediately to the Bears.
It probably didn’t feel good for him to watch his former team rampage on to a Super Bowl title in their first seasons after his departure, especially with the Bears stumbling to a losing record.
Bygones are bygones at this point as the two teams looked to answer some significant offseason questions.
Khalif Raymond takes the opening kickoff for the Denver Broncos and had himself a pretty good return of 26 yards. Under Mark Sanchez, the Broncos offense stumbled out of the gates with an offensive holding call. However, Sanchez tossed his way out of that hole with a big third down pass to Virgil Green.
After another quick pass to Demaryius Thomas for a first down, C.J. Anderson picked up a couple on first down. That setup a screen pass to Green that went for nothing, but Sanchez converted another big third down pass to Green for fourteen yards.
The Broncos were within field goal range at that point and the offense not looking at anemic as it did nearly all of 2015.
On 3rd and 4 from the Bears 27 yard line, the Broncos offensive line jumps for a false start penalty. Then on 3rd and 9, Sanchez hits Thomas deep for the 32 yard touchdown pass.
Broncos up, 7-0.
It’s the Broncos defense turn to get things done. The Bears return the kickoff to the 33 yard line and Jay Cutler and the Bears offense takes the field.
Cutler completes his first pass to Alshon Jeffery for a quick 12 yard gain and a first down. After two runs, the Bears cross midfield for their first third down attempt. In true Broncos defense fashion, the pass rush drops Cutler for a sack to force a punt.
From their own 20 yard line, Sanchez picks up right where he left off with a quick nine yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders. A Ronnie Hillman sighting leads to a first down, who is tackled hard by former Bronco Danny Trevathan.
On one of the ugliest bootleg attempts, Sanchez throws into double coverage for the interception setting the Bears up with good field possession.
Fortunately, Fox called consecutive running plays to setup a third and seven for Cutler to quickly get sacked by T.J. Ward. Thank you, John Fox!
The Broncos defense ending drives on third down.
Ask the Bears if the Broncos defense is better this season.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 12, 2016
On their next possession, the Bears pull their starters on defense. Hillman runs the ball for negative one yard. On the next play, Sanchez steps up to avoid the rush and launches a bomb to Bennie Fowler. The ball was just out of his reach for the incompletion. On third and eleven, Sanchez throws the ball eight yards short of the sticks for the punt.
That ends Mark Sanchez’s run at quarterback as the Bears take over with less than two minutes to go in the first quarter.
The punt was solid and after a penalty, the Bears started from their own nine yard line. John Fox calls a run play, then a screen pass. Both go nowhere. On third and long, Cutler appears to have completed a pass for the first down, but the referees called the pass incomplete.
The Bears punted again to Raymond who returned the ball to midfield to end the first quarter.
The second quarter opened with Trevor Siemian at quarterback as promised, and it was immediately the Siemian-Latimer Show as Cody Latimer finally showed why he was drafted by hauling in three catches in a row to start the series.
But then rookie corner Deiondre Hall broke up two long plays to the end zone - one to Fowler and one to Laurie’s favorite bubble wide-receiver Jordan ‘Sunshine’ Taylor - forcing Brandon McManus to come out for his first field goal, a 37-yard kick.
Broncos up, 10-0.
A three-and-out from the Bears thanks to our superb defensive line gave Siemian and the Broncos’ offense another chance with most of the second quarter to go, but it was wasted on a three-and-out drive as rookie Riley Dixon came out to offer up a 47-yard punt that pinned the Bears back on their 14-yard line.
On the first play of the Bears’ second drive of the quarter, Brian Hoyer completed a play-action to Deonte Thompson for a big gain. Two plays later, Hoyer had his 17-yard strike to Josh Bellamy negated by a penalty, bringing up third-and-long.
Although a little pass from Hoyer turned into a huge gain, the Bears still faced a 4th-and-3. John Fox and the Bears’ offense mistakenly dared the Broncos defense to stop them. To which Wade Phillips laughed and said, “OK.” Then, of course, the defense issued its second sack of the game c/o rookie OLB Vontarrius Dora.
Bears go for it on 4th and 2 and Vontarrius Dora with the magnificent sack to kill the drive.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 12, 2016
Siemian took a deep shot on his first play of the third drive, aiming for Latimer in the end zone, but the play was broken up by two defenders. Hillman got the ball on the second play, scampering several yards but having it called back due to a holding penalty.
The second-year quarterback got himself out of trouble on the next play, running for 16 yards and a first down, thanks to offsetting holding penalties that gave the Broncos’ a break and allowed them to keep the first.
Latimer and Booker combined on the next two plays to get the Broncos into the red zone, but penalties once again backed the Broncos up to the 28-yard line. After a few short plays, Siemian went deep to the end zone on third-and-nine but overthrew Latimer on double coverage. McManus kicked a 44-yard field goal to put the Broncos up 13-0.
Broncos up, 13-0.
On the Bears’ next drive, the Broncos’ defense quickly created third-and-long, and Jared Crick threw Hoyer to the ground like a rag doll. Then ala-Von-Miller-Super-Bowl, Bennie Fowler blocked the attempt and Zaire Anderson recovered the ball in the end zone for a huge defensive/ST touchdown.
Broncos up, 20-0.
With just a few minutes left in the half, the Bears made some headway before Hoyer threw deep and Broncos’ Lorenzo Doss said, “No way,” got the pick and ensured the Broncos’ first-half shutout.
Siemian got the ball back with about 45 seconds left, but rather than pay John Fox a tribute by taking a knee, the Broncos managed the clock and thanks to a 22-yard toe-squeezing catch by Jordan Taylor, McManus attempted his third field goal of the night. Unfortunately, the Bears special teams came through and McManus was denied as his kick was blocked.
Quarterbacks 1a and 1b are done. Here is how they measured up.
Finally, Broncos fans will get some live game looks at first round rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch. Well, not right away. The Bears receive the kickoff to start the half.
However, the Broncos third string defense puts the Bears away quickly with a third and out. The Broncos punt return unit continued their fairly solid night with a good return from Bralon Addison, setting Lynch up with solid field position to start his first drive.
From the Broncos 43 yard line, the Bears read Lynch’s bootleg play perfectly. Lynch used his speed to run past the defender to get back to the line of scrimmage for a no gain play. Devontae Booker took a short run to setup a third and seven for Lynch, who tried to take off on a run as no wide receivers were open and was sacked for a short loss.
An amazing punt by Britton Colquitt pinned the Bears inside their own 10 yard line to start their next drive.
Adam Gotsis is finding himself in the backfield a lot as he dropped Jordan Howard for a loss as Darius Kilgo left the field shaken up. Immediately after that play, the Broncos rush up the middle for a sack and safety for linebacker Dekoda Watson.
Broncos up, 22-0.
Watson is playing his way onto the roster with his play in this game.
Addison took the ensuing punt/kickoff back for a nice return.
Bralon Addison on the post-safety free punt starts at the 10 and returns the ball out to the 32.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 12, 2016
Kapri takes the first down handoff up the middle for a 12 yard gain, but then lost a yard on the next play. Lynch completed his first pass to Cody Latimer on slant for a good chunk of yards.
From the Bears 40, Lynch hits Latimer again for another 10 yard gain. After a stuffed run and a penalty, Lynch connected on a seven yard pass to set up third and 13. Lynch completed a pass short to Fowler to setup a 46 yard field goal attempt from Brandon McManus.
The field goal attempt looked good all the way until it boinked off the upright. The Broncos come away empty handed.
With great field position, Bears quarterback David Fales threw an incomplete pass on first down and after a short run, Fales was sacked by rookie safety Will Parks on third down to end the drive.
Lynch opens up with an intermediate pass to DeVier Posey for a first down, which gets the Broncos out from the shadow of their own end zone. After a short run, Lynch takes a naked bootleg for an easy six yard run for the first down.
On second down after a short run, great interior pressure nearly dropped Lynch. Lynch escaped that lineman and another, before finally being taken down on that busted play.
Lynch breaks two sacks before getting wrapped up on the third attempt.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 12, 2016
On third and 15, Bibbs gets the draw play and takes it for ten yards. In comes the punt battle. Dixon boots a line drive punt that was bobbed, pinning the Bears back on their own 15 yard line.
The Bears end the quarter with 79 total yards of offense.
After ending the previous quarter with a solid 12 yard gain on a pass play, the Bears picked things up near their 30 yard line. After a few more ho hum plays, the Bears drive came to an end near their own 45 yard line.
John Fox is seen with a very unpleasant scowl for a preseason game.
Kapri Bibbs opens the next drive for two runs totaling about nine yards to set up a third and short. Lynch turned on the next play to immediately hand off to Bibbs again who rushed for the first down.
Juwan Thompson in at fullback pushing a hole for Kapri Bibbs to grab the 1st & 10 on 3rd & 1.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 12, 2016
On first down, Lynch hands off the ball again as it appeared the Broncos were content to just grind out the clock with a little under 10 minutes to go in the game.
After an injury timeout, Lynch threw a dart to Jordan Taylor for a big gainer down the middle of the field to the 50. And the Broncos go right back to the ground game. Then another pass play, this time deep down the sideline to Taylor again. Taylor was interfered with, putting the Broncos near the red zone.
A big play by Durron Neal that put the Broncos deep inside the red zone, a penalty was called turning a 20 yard gain into a 15 yard loss. On third down and 27, Lynch dodges a sack to throw the ball away. The negative plays put them out of field goal range.
On 3rd & 27 Paxton Lynch takes a broken play, avoids the sack and just misses hitting Henry Krieger-Coble inbounds.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 12, 2016
A fantastic punt by Colquitt put the Bears on their own eight yard line. After that a whole lot of nothing happened until a Bears punt.
With a little over three minutes to play, what is Lynch’s final meaningful drive of the game began. Instead, the Broncos ran the clock out to secure victory.
Broncos win, 22-0.