The Denver Broncos played host to the Carolina Panthers, a team they dominated defensively 24-10 just seven months ago in Super Bowl 50 en route to a world championship. Cam Newton and the Panthers were hungry for redemption in this game, but they first had to overcome Von Miller and that impressive Broncos defense.
After a heartwarming championship introduction that featured Terrell Davis and John Elway bringing out the two Lombardi trophies fro the late 1990s and then Miller passing the most recent trophy off to Peyton Manning to the roar of the orange and blue crowd.
Time to ride!
The Panthers won the coin toss and decided to start the game off by feasting on Siemian. However, Siemian decided to start making some plays. First a sidearm completion to Demaryius Thomas for a first down, then on third and long, Siemian made another play to avoid the pass rush to complete a pass to Virgil Green for another first down.
Then it was time for C.J. Anderson time. After a few impressive runs, he needed a breather and rookie Devontae Booker inexplicably coughed up the football within field goal range ending a really impressive first drive for the Broncos.
Right off the bat, the Panthers exploit the Broncos defense on the ground with two runs for 20 yards. Then the Broncos defense stiffened to setup a third and nine attempt, which the Panthers convert on a deep pass over the middle to Kelvin Benjamin.
A reverse to Ted Ginn Jr. netted another first down that set the Panthers up inside the red zone at the Broncos 16. Somehow Chris Harris Jr. ended up on Benjamin in a severe height mismatch that ended with a touchdown reception.
Panthers 7, Broncos 0.
Siemian started this game off throwing the ball very well and quickly got the Broncos back to midfield on their ensuing drive. He hit Anderson out in the flat for a monster gain down to the Panthers 30 yard line.
Two plays later, Siemian nearly overthrew Thomas on third down, but Thomas climbed the latter to make the catch for the first down inside the red zone.
The drive fell apart after that after a run for a loss and then a sack of Siemian, the Broncos then tried to throw a screen pass that was batted up and intercepted.
The Broncos offense continued to turn the ball over at their 2015 counterparts rate.
On the ensuing drive, Cam Newton got up crying for a flag after being dropped as he threw the ball away. After a run, the Panthers on third and six tried a shovel pass to Mike Tolbert who was obliterated by Darian Stewart for the stop.
The Broncos offense gets another chance to make up for their miscues in the first quarter. Siemian’s first pass of the drive was a nice intermediate throw to Emmanuel Sanders for a first down.
On the very next play, Anderson broke loose for a 28 yard run into Panthers territory. Then Siemian shows all of his doubters (I was one) that he is, in fact, a mobile quarterback with a nice 8 yard scramble when the play broke down. After a short run, the Broncos on third and one Siemian handed the ball off to rookie fullback Andy Janovich who broke free for a 28 yard touchdown run.
The touchdown capped off an impressive 5-play 80 yard drive.
Broncos 7, Panthers 7.
Poor kick return action resulted in Ginn being taken down at the 10-yard line, setting up the Panthers with poor field possession to start their next drive.
On a designed quarterback run, Newton tried to get by Von Miller. However, Miller kept him bottled up for a short gain. Newton threw the ball away on the very next play while under heavy pressure to setup a third and six from their own 14-yard line.
Newton was forced to call the Panthers third timeout on offense for the half. He seemed rattled as he walked off the field, which only fired the hostile crowd up even more.
However, Benjamin broke through the soft spot in the Broncos zone for a big first down out to the Panthers 30-yard line. Two plays later on third and one, Jonathan Stewart was able to skirt past the defensive line into the arms of Brandon Marshall for the first down.
The Broncos defense seemed to really miss the presence of Vance Walker on the defensive line, especially in the run game. The Panthers are finding plenty of holes for positive yardage.
The No Fly Zone is still effective, so the defense is still forcing a lot of third downs. On the next third down, the Panthers convert on a laser throw to Devin Funchess from Newton.
From the Broncos 40-yard line the Broncos setup yet another third and long for the Panthers to try to convert. Newton was under immense pressure, but somehow got the ball out to Greg Olsen for yet another conversion.
After a short run from Newton and a pass for no gain to Olsen, the Panthers again had another third and long situation. As Newton dropped back, he hit Olsen down to the four yard line for another first down.
The Broncos defense was clearly gassed and exhausted at this point after 17 plays on this drive. The defense got worked on this drive pretty good.
The Panthers cap the drive up with a diving Newton touchdown run to cap an incredible 18 play 89 yard drive.
Panthers 14, Broncos 7.
The Broncos defense needed a good rest. Instead they got a breather with Siemian and the Broncos going three and out as Siemian overthrew Jordan Norwood at the sticks.
Riley Dixon had his first punt of the game and of his career kicking the ball 42 yards with a minimal return from Ginn.
The Panthers marched right down the field with no timeouts to setup a field goal attempt from Graham Gano to end the first half.
Panthers 17, Broncos 7.
The Panthers got the ball first to start the second half. After two quick runs for another first down, the Panthers keep the ball on the ground again with another designed run by Newton and another run up the gut to setup a third and inches.
Newton tried another designed run, but were stuffed by both Aqib Talib and Shane Ray for a much needed defensive stop for that beleaguered Broncos defense.
Siemian hit Thomas on a crossing route on the first play for a nice 20-yard gain to start the drive. A pass interference call on Thomas, put the Broncos into Panthers territory and another first down run by Anderson setup something terrible.
A horribly underthrown ball to Sanders that should have been an easy touchdown pass resulted in another turnover for the Broncos offense. Siemian has played well, but is kind of giving some fans a Kyle Orton-y vibe tonight. That’s not a good vibe to have.
The Broncos defense woke up, however. DeMarcus Ware ended the next Panthers drive with a third down sack on Newton.
Siemian appeared to start playing scared after that second interception and promptly led the Broncos to a three and out on their next drive.
The Broncos defense stayed awake and on third and 30 on the next series, the Panthers were stopped fairly easily.
On the Broncos next series, Siemian made a short completion to Anderson, then Siemian took off for a first down scramble. Siemian gets Virgil Green back into the mix with a pass out to midfield, followed by a ten yard run from Anderson.
After a pass to Sanders to end the third quarter, Siemian dumps it off to Anderson on a screen pass for a 25-yard touchdown reception to cap a methodical 78-yard drive that had a little bit of everything.
Panthers 17, Broncos 14.
On the Panthers next drive, Chris Harris Jr. gets under a pass for an incredible interception. A late hit penalty set the Broncos up in scoring position.
A nine-yard run by Anderson followed by a no gain, set up a third down a one for the Broncos at the Panthers 14-yard line. Siemian didn’t like his read, so he took off running for the first down.
The Broncos ended up with a fourth and inches at the goal line, but “Conservative” Gary Kubiak decided not to go for the easy field goal. Anderson ran the ball just inside the one-yard line for a first and goal.
Siemian makes a terrible throw on first and goal from the one foot line that was nearly intercepted, so the Broncos smartly went back to Anderson who took it for no gain up the middle. Now on third and goal, it went right back to Anderson who chugged it into the end zone for the momentum-changing score.
Broncos 21, Panthers 17.
On the Panthers next drive, the Broncos defense quickly setup another third down attempt. Needing just three yards, the Panthers converted and had a penalty wiped out over some nonsense I stopped listening to.
From near midfield, Newton hit Olsen on a big first down throw into Broncos territory. Another quick pass to Olsen gets the Panthers near the red zone. One a third and five from the Broncos 18-yard line, Newton misfired on a pass to Funchess where Aqib Talib was able to break up the pass.
Broncos 21, Panthers 20.
With 4:21 left in the game, the Broncos offense just needed to get a good drive in. A quick incomplete pass to open things, put the Broncos in an unfavorable second and long situation.
A short three-yard run by Anderson created a third down for the Broncos. Siemain took the sack and provided the Panthers with an opportunity to win the game after rookie punter Dixon badly shanked the most important punt of the game.
Derp Derp Derp.
After a false start, the Broncos defense collapses the pocket on Newton with a sack from Todd Davis and Ware. On second and 20, Newton tries to run the ball but he was walloped by Bradley Roby after five yards.
Facing third and 15, Von Miller finally gets to Newton with a huge sack to take the game to the two minute warning.
On fourth down and 22, a ticky tack hands to the face penalty resulted in an automatic first down for the Panthers.
After a quick run, Shaquil Barrett hits Newton’s arm to force a throw out of bounds to setup a third and five. Olsen converts the third down with a catch over the middle for eight yards.
After a near Harris interception, Newton chucks the ball in an area that should have been called intentional grounding. The refs decided to call a personal foul on Stewart for a helmet-to-helmet shot too, offsetting the two calls.
On a second down and ten with 36 seconds to go from the Panthers 47 yard-line, Newton overthrows Olsen. On third down, Newton hits Benjamin out to the Broncos 37 yard line and two plays later a 50-yard field goal for Gano.
Gano missed. Broncos move to 1-0.
NO GOOD.— NFL (@NFL) September 9, 2016
Broncos 21, Panthers 20.