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In a two-QB competition, it’s the third who steals the show in Broncos’ 24-17 win

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Third-string quarterback Kyle Sloter helped the Broncos’ offense finally make the first preseason game fun to watch.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The question was shot down rather methodically by head coach Vance Joseph.

But it wasn’t the answer that was so interesting.

It was the fact that this question was even asked:

Is Kyle Sloter contending for the Broncos’ starting quarterback role now too?

“As a starter for us?” said the head coach. “No.”

But the statistics told a much different quarterback story:

Kyle Sloter: 5 for 6, 94 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs

Trevor Siemian: 6 for 7, 51 yards

Paxton Lynch: 6 for 9, 42 yards

Sloter, the undrafted rookie out of University of Northern Colorado, had a perfect passer rating at 158.3 on the night.

Facing a third-team defense or not, that’s impressive.

“It was awesome,” the Atlanta native said after the game in which his family traveled to Chicago to watch. “That’s everything you dream of as a kid. Dropping back and throwing a touchdown in the National Football League and leading another one. It was just a blessing to have an opportunity and be in this position. My teammates did a great job putting me in that position.”

Sloter - playing with poise and patience - was the first of Denver’s three QBs to give Broncos fans something interesting to watch.

Chris Harris Jr. put the Broncos on the scoreboard almost immediately with an impressive 50-yard pick-six off Chicago’s Mike Glennon on the third play of the game.

“It’s kind of like the same play I’ve been seeing in practice. My read took me to that play,” Harris Jr. said, adding it felt good to be in the end zone again. “I just happened to be in the right spot.”

But that would be the most exciting play of the preseason matchup for another three hours.

The Broncos’ offense would add one more field goal on Siemian’s first chance with the ball during a 10-play drive wrought with penalties.

But then the offense - under both Siemian and Lynch - stalled with punts on every other drive through the end of the third quarter (save one that ended on a failed run attempt by Juwan Thompson on 4th and 2 late in the third quarter).

Having gone into the locker room up 10-7 at the half, the Broncos found themselves down 17-10 midway through the fourth quarter.

Until No. 1 “Sloter’d” it.

Taking the helm with 9:39 left in the game, Sloter hit fellow rookie Carlos Henderson for a quick seven-yard gain on his first NFL pass. De’Angelo Henderson converted a third-and-1 and then Sloter hit Marlon Brown for a nice 15-yard gain.

After an incomplete pass on first down, D. Henderson ran 11 yards for a first but a penalty put the down at 2nd-and-19. Then on 3rd-and-18, Sloter hit rookie Isaiah McKenzie for a deep pass over the middle and a 50-yard touchdown play to tie the game at 17.

In his next drive, Sloter hit Kalif Raymond for a 24-yard gain deep left on a 1st-and-20 play before D. Henderson scampered to another first down on an 13-yard run.

A holding penalty, one-yard run and a sack would almost doom the drive until, who else, the speedster from Coastal Carolina would take the rock and run 41 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

“He’s a very special guy,” McKenzie said of his fellow rookie, De’Angelo. “I told everybody. Von (Miller), ‘We’re going to come back. We’re going to win this game.’ That’s what we did.”

Although Chicago’s Mitch Tribusky had an impressive rookie debut, he couldn’t get the Bears into the end zone before time ran out as the Broncos’ third-string defense held off the surge.

Sloter would finish the game having made the Broncos’ two longest throws of the night plus winning a whole new crop of fans.

“It was definitely a fun game. Fun to be a part of,” Sloter said of his major part in the win. “My team did a great job of putting me in a great position to win. They got open for me. I was protected. I can’t chalk that up to myself, more of my guys putting me in that position.”

While the third team offense was balling, the first (and second) team know there’s a lot of work to do before next game.

Siemian declined to give a progress report on whether he “separated himself” from Lynch in the media-driven QB race, saying he doesn’t look at his performance “like that.”

“I did some good things. I thought Paxton did some good things. Definitely some stuff I know we’re going to watch and clean up,” Siemian said. “I can’t really have a reaction right now without watching the tape. I thought everybody did something good tonight.”

Lynch added that his goal is to play consistent football - whether it’s practice with the 1s or 2s or in game.

“I just really think that I’m trying to go out there and play good football day in and day out, and play consistent with the ones and with the twos, no matter who I’m playing with,” he said. “I think you can always improve your game all the way around. But consistency is something I pride myself in and I want to get to that point where I’m consistently playing well.”

Joseph emphasized after the unimpressive victory that “winning is winning.”

The two quarterbacks competing for starter will get another chance next week to show they can run the offense, but it may be the third-string guy fans will be most excited to see next week.

Poll

Which ROOKIE impressed you the most Thursday night?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Kyle Sloter
    (842 votes)
  • 11%
    Garett Bolles
    (236 votes)
  • 37%
    De’Angelo Henderson
    (773 votes)
  • 4%
    Isaiah McKenzie
    (83 votes)
  • 0%
    Dymonte Thomas
    (4 votes)
  • 4%
    Jamal Carter
    (85 votes)
  • 0%
    Orion Stewart
    (15 votes)
  • 0%
    "Shasta"
    (16 votes)
  • 0%
    "Whorfin"
    (20 votes)
2074 votes total Vote Now