When you talk about season openers, nobody squeaks out wins like the Denver Broncos. Monday Night Football came down to a rookie kicker and the big right paw of Shelby Harris. It had shades of the Carolina game from a season ago, but there was definitely a different feel against the Los Angeles Chargers.
2nd year in a row this has happened. First Gano and now the Young Hoe— Scotty Payne (@Skotty_Payne) September 12, 2017
Starting the season 1-0, and getting a division win is big for the Broncos. There is no shortage of doubters out there regarding this team. Perhaps the doubts are deserved, as the Broncos did anything but inspire down the stretch in 2016. The preseason wasn’t exactly electrifying either. Then came the start of the regular season.
The Broncos season opener was the tale of two games within a game. The first three and a half quarters looked like a statement from the offense. The last half of the 4th quarter was a display of compounding mistakes, and snowballing results.
Let’s take that plummeting dive toward the end of the game first. Turnovers generally lead to losses, and the Broncos tested that theory pretty heavily. Trevor Siemian’s lone interception started the tumble. On 3rd and 10 with 10:44 to go, the Broncos chose to throw a short pass, and the Chargers Adrian Phillips came away with a bouncing ball, giving Los Angeles life.
The #Broncos had the chance to put this game away after the fourth-down stop & they got cute on offense.— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) September 12, 2017
Two and a half minutes later, Keenan Allen was getting a taunting penalty for his end zone celebration. A minute later, Jamaal Charles put the ball on the ground, and Philip Rivers exploited what looked like a blown coverage by Bradly Roby, and connected with Travis Benjamin for a touchdown. What once was a 17-point lead had been whittled to 3 in mere moments.
The final flurry ended with that Harris block on a field goal to win the game, but getting to that 17-point lead was a thing of beauty.
Denver’s second drive began the scoring. Thirteen plays and 70 yards ended with a free play on a Joey Bosa offside penalty, and Siemian rolling to his right, eventually hitting Bennie Fowler with a perfectly place pass.
It was a great way to start, but Siemian wasn’t even close to done. After the Chargers completed their own 75-yard scoring drive, it looked like the game could become a shoutout. A couple of stalled drives later, Denver took the ball with 10:05 left in the second quarter. Once again, Siemian orchestrated a solid drive. A.J. Derby made a couple nice catches. C.J. Anderson and Charles carried the ball well, and then, perhaps the play of the evening.
It was 2nd-and-goal from inside the 1. A play fake resulted in Siemian rolling to his right, again. This time only Bosa stood in his way. The unimaginable occurred, as Siemian juked Bosa, and stumbled in for 6. It was the highlight of the game. It will follow Bosa for the rest of his career, and will be a staple on future Siemian highlight reels.
On Denver’s third touchdown drive, Demaryius Thomas had a drop, and then Siemian immediately went back to him for a 29-yard reception on 3rd and 6. Siemian had a nice 8-yard scramble. He looked like he might run another one in, but Bosa was able to catch him from behind. Finally, Siemain connected with Fowler again for a short touchdown.
McManus tacked on 3 more later on, and it felt like the rout was on. It wasn’t, but even with the slow collapse in motion, Denver was able to finish. The end of the game was a team effort to let Los Angeles back in. It was disappointing to see the finish, but there were a lot of positives.
Perhaps the biggest positive was the play of Siemian. He had a bad interception. He threw a couple balls that should have been picks, but that is not the story. The Denver Broncos are Trevor Siemian’s team. He took ownership on Monday night against Los Angeles.