"We wanted to come in and show ourselves that we haven't lost a beat. We're the same team from last year," T.J. Ward said after the game. "I think we did that. The way we've been preparing in camp was put on display today."
Coach Gary Kubiak agreed, and pointed out that what was displayed was done by a lot of new faces.
"The nice thing is that there are a lot of faces not out there but yet the play was very solid, it was fast, a lot of good things going on," Kubiak noted. "Last year, we were deep. We played a lot of people and we played extremely well, we know that. It sure looks like we have a chance to be deep again."
With Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris sitting this one out, and T.J. Ward, Darian Stewart, Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis having limited snaps, it was the second-string (and third and fourth) who got the job done all night.
The defense came away with seven sacks, an interception, a forced fumble, a safety and a very discombobulated Bears offense. And the special teams unit added a blocked punt and recovery for a touchdown to the tally sheet.
The Bears managed only 48 yards rushing and 82 yards passing for a total offense of 130 yards on the night.
"If you score in three phases of football that's a good thing," Kubiak said. "Always preaching being able to win three ways as a team and build a score. [Scoring] three ways as a team is very impressive."
Great team win all around in all 3 phases of the game #BroncosUp— Bennie Fowler (@b_fowler13) August 12, 2016
The quarterback performance wasn't quite as impressive but it was also perhaps better than expected, leaving the depth chart questions still on the table, with perhaps a slight edge to Mark Sanchez.
"I thought Mark did really good. Just had the one mistake with the football that we're continuing to try and correct, he knows that," Kubiak said, noting Sanchez interception near the end of the first quarter. "I thought Trevor [Siemian] was good, put some deep balls in some good places, some plays we should have made for him."
And when it came to the rookie, who played the entire second half, Kubiak was very pleased with his young gun.
"Paxton, for the first time out, I thought it was very solid," Kubiak said, noting Lynch's reactions were good. "Obviously he got sacked a few times, but as a group I thought it was a good step. I think they went out and played how they've been practicing. They've been pretty solid, so we just have to keep moving forward."
Though Kubiak refused to say Siemian would be the starter in next week's game, he is looking forward to the joint practices and the game with the 49ers as a really good test of the QBs.
"We have two practices against the Niners and then play them on Saturday, so a lot of good evaluation will still take place next week," Kubiak said.
Sanchez, Siemian and Lynch were all just happy to get some real game time under their belts.
"It was a great start, to go down and score, to overcome a penalty and stand in there on third down," Sanchez said, who connected with Demaryius Thomas on a 32-yard play in the end zone. "That was fun. It was good to get hit and bounce back up and lead the team down the field. I had a ton of support from these guys. It felt great."
Sanchez started his drive with the offensive line getting a holding penalty on the first play. But No. 6 overcame it with a 10-play drive ending in a touchdown.
"I thought it was important for us to score on that first drive. Not just a field goal, but get six points," Sanchez said, noting the hard hit by former Bronco linebacker Danny Trevathan. "They never feel good, but they feel better when your guy is standing in the end zone with the ball."
Sanchez praised DT, Emmanuel Sanders, Bennie Fowler and Virgil Green in particular for making "some great catches" for him. "Those guys did a great job of wiggling free and getting open for me. Offensive line did a great job of protecting. The running backs got us a ton of yards on the ground, so that was great."
The only quarterback to throw a touchdown pass, Sanchez was also the only one to throw an interception - something the veteran has unfortunately been known for over his career.
Sanchez brushed it off, as did Kubiak.
"The thing that is impressive is first play of the game we have a mistake [holding call]. So now you're out there first play of the game you're 1st and 20," Kubiak said. "[Sanchez] made up all those situations. Played smart football, got us back in position to make third downs. That's what you have to do as a quarterback."
Though Siemian is competing against Sanchez for starter right now, the second-year player said he felt no pressure to score when he took over in the second quarter.
"Not at all," said Siemian, who was seven of 12 with 88 yards and a QB rating of 81.2. "I was pumped for Mark. Pumped for the offense. It's our first live action. It was cool to see that kind of success on our opening drive."
Broncos' rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch - who perhaps has the least riding on his performance but still the most to gain from a good one - said it felt great just to get back in a football game and go up against another team.
"It felt good to go out there and play against a real defense and be live and get hit and move around in the pocket and make some throws," Lynch said, adding that his first completion "felt good." On the night, Lynch was six for seven with the highest QB rating of the three at 110.7. He also tallied the longest average yardage per pass at 10.6, compared to 7.6 and 7.3 respectively for Sanchez and Siemian.
Paxton's best throw of the night:https://t.co/smHo7EPsdJ— Ryan Greene (@RGreene5280) August 12, 2016
"I was hoping I would be able to get a touchdown tonight, but I didn't," Lynch said, adding that they moved the ball well but mistakes cost them good field position. "I felt really comfortable with the game plan. The way we put the game plan together and the plays we had in there and the plays they called when I was out there were pretty simple."
Things are likely to get "less simple" for Lynch and his fellow quarterbacks, but for now, it's time to enjoy the win ... and that impressive defensive domination.
"We're clicking," Ward said. "It felt good to get that win today."