“Our field, our show,” proclaimed star cornerback Aqib Talib before the Denver Broncos stormed the field to take on the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night in their third game of the NFL’s preseason.
Several large story lines were in play for tonight’s game. It was Vance Joseph’s first game at home as a head coach and the first in-game signing of Jamaal Charles. Most importantly, fans were anxious to see how Trevor Siemian would perform after being named the starting quarterback earlier in the week.
So how did things go? Here is how it went down. . .
The Green Bay Packers won the opening coin toss and opted to receive, prompting Aaron Rodgers to lead his team’s offense onto the field with an opportunity to draw first blood. On their first series, the Packers opened up with three consecutive pass plays (two-play action), but the Broncos’ defense stood strong with great coverage and forced them to punt.
It then was Trevor Siemian’s turn to show why the team named him the starter over second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch. In the first series of the drive, it became obvious. On the drive’s first third down scenario, Siemian hit Demaryius Thomas on a crossing route for a first down. It was the exact same play Lynch missed Thomas on against the San Francisco 49ers last week, and Trevor was able to execute the play with ease. Shortly after, the offense fizzled out and the Packers had their second chance to put points up on the board.
That’s the crossing route Paxton Lynch couldn’t hit Demaryius Thomas with last week on third down. Trevor Siemian does it with ease.— Christopher Hart (@topherhart) August 27, 2017
The Packers strolled down the field with a big gain on the ground by Ty Montgomery, but were slowed up as they neared the thirty yard line. After Rodgers missed Randall Cobb in the end zone on a second down bomb, All-Pro Von Miller used his impeccable spin move to get by Jason Spriggs and take down Rodgers for his first sack of the preseason. Yet, Green Bay was able to capitalize with Mason Crosby nailing a 52 yard field goal to give the Packers a 3-0 lead with 7:10 remaining in the first quarter.
It was then the Broncos’ turn to rebound and put points on the board, but that hope was squandered on third down when Siemian made an awful read and was picked off by Kentrell Brice. Brett Hundley replaced Rodgers at quarterback and on the very next play, Ty Montgomery was able to punch it in on a rush for three yards to give the Packers a 10-0 lead with 6:14 remaining in the first quarter.
After Siemian’s disastrous interception the drive prior, Broncos Country was hoping that the third drive would be the charm. The Broncos started out with back-to-back power runs, led by Andy Janovich, which boosted C.J. Anderson for quality gains that resulted in a much needed first down offense. Thereafter, Siemian was able to scramble for seventeen yards and hit Emmanuel Sanders on a nice route to move the Broncos into scoring position.
With another crucial third down facing the Broncos’ offense, Siemian hit Jordan Taylor on a beautiful back shoulder pass for a first down. On the next play, Anderson was able to spring right and scamper sixteen yards for a touchdown. With that score, the Broncos were able to close the gap to just three points. It was a great drive for the offense and it showed Siemian’s ability to capitalize after making a big mistake, which was fantastic to see.
Near the end of quarter, it was announced that Thomas and Kerr were ruled out for the rest of the game with knee and groin injuries respectively. With Kerr out, the Broncos played the final two defensive drives with only two defensive lineman, Adam Gotsis and Domata Peko. Here is to hoping Kerr’s injury is not serious, as the team is already hurting depth wise with Derek Wolfe and Jared Crick being sidelined (and absent from the game) due to injury.
At the quarter’s end, the Packers led the Broncos 10-7.
The Packers weren’t able to do anything of note on their first possession of the second quarter and were forced to punt to Isaiah McKenzie, who had a nice return. Unfortunately, most of it was negated due to a holding penalty on veteran linebacker Zaire Anderson.
The Broncos’ offense didn’t fair much better than Green Bay’s, and were promptly sent to the sidelines with a three-and-out after Siemian was destroyed by Mike Daniels when the Packers sent the house on a blitz. It was a golden opportunity for the Broncos’ offensive tackles to show their efficacy in a key situational down, but both Garett Bolles and Menelik Watson were overwhelmed on that play. Bolles was credited with giving up the sack.
Both tackles appear to still be a liability in pass protection. Does not bode well— Ryan Kosior (@RyanJKosior) August 27, 2017
Denver’s defense played strong on the next series, forcing the Packers to a quick three-and-out, which provided the Broncos’ offense with great field position. In an odd turn of events, Todd Davis and Aqib Talib got into their own personal little scuffle after the drive that extended to the sidelines.
Looking to keep the momentum moving in the right direction, the offense looked for a quick strike on first down. Recognizing weak one-on-one coverage, Siemian fired off a beautiful pass to Sanders deep up the right sideline, but the ball rolled off Sanders’ fingertips. You couldn’t have asked for a better throw by Siemian, it should have been a touchdown — and the blame goes to Emmanuel for not reeling in that pass which should have resulted in a touchdown.
That was a great throw by Siemian — but it rolled off the fingertips of Sanders. Should have been a touchdown. Aggressive call!— Christopher Hart (@topherhart) August 27, 2017
After a few nice runs by Jamaal Charles, the Broncos’ offense was stood up by the Packers’ defense on third down near the ten yard line. Trying to make the most out of all his situational football opportunities, Head Coach Vance Joseph elected to go for it on fourth down, but the interior of Denver’s offensive line was crushed and Anderson was tackled behind the line of scrimmage for a loss, resulting in a turnover on downs.
Denver’s defense looked shaky on the ensuing drive, giving up several big third downs that allowed Green Bay to get into Broncos’ territory. However, they stiffened up and straightened out and were able to prevent the Packers from scoring. Shelby Harris, a reserve defensive lineman, looked very sharp on the drive with a sack and a tackle for loss. It has been two consecutive weeks of great play by Harris, who has likely earned himself a spot on the final roster.
Still down 10-7, Siemian was provided with the opportunity to execute a two-minute drill for the Broncos’ offense to close out the half. He was able to hit a variety of receivers, including tight ends Virgil Green and A.J. Derby to get the Broncos inside the twenty yard line. Alas, another dropped pass by Sanders in the end zone (partially deflected by Kevin King) stalled the team’s hopes for a touchdown.
Siemian was an impressive six of seven for 48 yards on the drive, which concluded with a 29 yard field goal conversion by Brandon McManus, which tied the game at ten all at the end of the half. Trevor’s stat line for the first half was 13/22 for 127 yards and 1 interception. Keep in mind it could have been much better had Sanders not had two crucial drives that should have resulted in scores.
End of first half score: Broncos 10, Packers 10.
It was Paxton Lynch’s turn to head the offense when the Broncos received the second half kickoff. Lynch looked so-so at the beginning of the drive, but showed his athleticism and was able to convert a third-and-nine by scrambling for a first down. Sadly, the offense fizzled with Paxton looking overwhelmed.
After holding onto the ball way too long on the next third down, he was sacked and the Broncos had to settle for a 46 yard field goal by McManus, which put the team up 13-10. Lynch was taken to the locker room to be evaluated for a shoulder injury (throwing arm) after the aforementioned sack, which prompted Kyle Sloter to warm up on the sidelines to replace him.
Looks like this is when Lynch hurt his right shoulder pic.twitter.com/Iek9IllXYi— Jon Heath (@JonHeathNFL) August 27, 2017
On the ensuing possession, the Packers let Hundley take the opening reps for their offense in the second half, but he looked just as poor against the second-string defense as he did the Broncos’ first-team defense. Green Bay opted to try a 61 yard field goal, but Crosby missed badly to the right and Denver’s offense was provided with great field position.
With Lynch ruled out due to injury, Sloter stepped into the fold. His first crack at a game he wasn’t expected to play in wasn’t good at all, and for that, I will provide you with a far more interested tidbit that occurred on the sidelines. Menelik Watson proposed to his girlfriend — she said yes!
A Broncos proposal: she said yes!!! pic.twitter.com/xh4HMAFTrL— Dave Althouse (@davealthouse) August 27, 2017
Much to the chagrin of Cheeseheads across the globe, the Packers busted out on the next drive, which gave the Broncos a golden ticket to extend their lead. Denver gladly took advantage of good field position, with Sloter stepping up his game and looking much better than his first possession with the offense.
He was sharp and precise, completing two passes, with a connection to Hunter Sharp for a nice touchdown to give the Broncos a ten point lead. It will be important for Sloter to continue to progress prior to the season, especially if Lynch’s shoulder injury proves to be serious enough to miss some time. So all that talk about Denver keeping only two quarterbacks on the active roster might be thrown out the window.
End of third quarter score: Broncos 20, Packers 10.
The Packers continued to give Brett Hundley an extended look and gain valuable experience in their third preseason game as he trotted out to begin Green Bay’s drive to start out the fourth quarter. After playing poorly since taking over for Rodgers in the first quarter, Hundley was able to make some plays through the air and on the ground. A six yard scramble for a touchdown cut Denver’s lead to 20-17 with 11:58 remaining in the game.
It was then Sloter’s third chance to lead the Broncos offense to prosperity and answer the Packers’ touchdown, but the drive failed immediately when rookie running back De’Angelo Henderson had his second fumble of the game, which was scooped up by a Green Bay defender, giving them favorable field position with just over nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. It was an unfortunate turnover for Henderson, who has been nothing short of stellar throughout camp and the team’s first two preseason games.
Starting out at Denver’s 43 yard line, the Packers started to grind down the clock with the running game, but failed to capitalize on Henderson’s fumble and the Broncos got the ball back at their own 20 yard line with 5:58 remaining in the game. Denver’s offense wasn’t able to muster up anything, and promptly punted to Green Bay who began a potential game-winning drive at their own 35 yard line with 4:14 to go in regulation.
But the Packers wouldn’t be on the field for long, who rolled the dice on fourth down and failed to convert. Denver’s offense couldn’t close out the game, and the Packers had one more chance to tie or win with less than two minutes to go. They got close, but didn’t get a score and the Broncos hung on and got their third victory of the preseason.
Final score: Broncos 20, Packers 17.
And that’s a wrap folks! Sound off in the comments section and give us your top performers from the game and other observations you noted in tonight’s game.