The Denver Broncos came into their first preseason game with a lot of excitement and hype, but that all faded in six short offensive plays. The Broncos first team offense never found the first down marker, while the first team defense never found the punt unit as the Minnesota Vikings first team offense trounced them for an easy touchdown drive.
From there, Broncos fans had to suffer through two full quarters of play with Paxton Lynch at the helm. He was never able to get into a groove and looked lost out there. Somehow, via an interception/short field and a punt return for a touchdown, Lynch left the game with the Broncos having 14 points on the board.
And then Chad Kelly happened. He entered the game midway through the third quarter and it was like a fire was lit under the entire team. He surged the team back to take the lead 28-27 midway through the fourth quarter, before a late interception attempting to answer another Vikings touchdown drive ended the hopes of a Swag comeback. Former Broncos quarterback Kyle Sloter would add two late touchdowns to put the game away 42-28 for the Vikings.
The Vikings lost the opening coin toss and lost. The Broncos immediately asked for the ball to give the offense a chance to show what it could do. Rookie running back Phillip Lindsay was back to receive the kick off to open up the game.
Broncos’ first-snap starting offense:— Kyle Fredrickson (@kylefredrickson) August 12, 2018
After a quick pass to Demaryius Thomas, Jared Veldheer set the Broncos back to a second and 10. Devontae Booker danced around for a three yard gain before an incompletion sent the punt team out. Marquette King had a rather unimpressive punt that brought Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense out onto the field.
Cousins hit Stefon Diggs on a quick out for six yards before following up with a short screen pass to Latavius Murray for no gain and a holding penalty. On 2nd and 14, Murray burst through the defense for a 22 yard gain and a first down.
Zaire Anderson was absent on another hole for Murray on another a huge run that put the Vikings into Broncos territory. Two plays later, Cousins hit Diggs deep down the sideline on Bradley Roby to setup the Vikings with a first and goal opportunity at the two yard line.
Two plays later, Bradley Chubb sealed the edge for big run stop on Murray to force a third and goal at the one yard line. In shotgun formation, Cousins hit Diggs on a quick slant with Issac Yiadmon in coverage for a Vikings touchdown.
Case Keenum and the Broncos promptly went three and out on the next series.
When Vance Joseph said two series max for the starting offense do you think he thought that would be 6 plays? #Broncos— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 12, 2018
Trevor Siemian came in on the Vikings next series. After two runs for a first down, Siemian took things to the air with two incompletions before hitting a wide receiver five yards short of the sticks. However, the Broncos were called with a leading with a helmet penalty to give the Vikings a first down.
After a short run, Siemian made another short pass. The defense seemed keyed on those short, quick passes and were making the tackles immediately. On 3rd and 8, Siemian from the shotgun was sacked by Will Parks to force a punt.
Vance Joseph stuck to his word and benched the first-team. Keenum finished 1 / 4 for 5 yards on the night.
Yeah, clearly the first-team offense needs more practice time. https://t.co/jTVaeLTtgr— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 12, 2018
Paxton Lynch came in and immediately threw an interception over the middle in double coverage.
With great field position, Siemian handed off two times to get the Vikings into the red zone before hitting a wide open Roc Thomas for a 12 yard touchdown pass to put the Vikings up 14-0 in the first quarter.
Roc Thomas TD pic.twitter.com/PKmROlWv9p— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) August 12, 2018
The Broncos followed up with another three and out and a punt. Lynch is not a good quarterback.
Trevor Siemian marched back out onto the field and quickly drove the Vikings back out across midfield. A few plays later, the Broncos looked like they had another defensive stop, but an illegal contact penalty kept the drive alive again for the Vikings.
Illegal contact on Marcus Rios. Second time that a third-down penalty from the Broncos secondary has kept a Vikings drive alive tonight.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 12, 2018
The Broncos, after another sack on Siemian, had another chance inside the 30 yard line to stop the Vikings and did. The 39-yard field goal would put the Vikings up 17-0 in the second quarter.
After four drives apiece (9:47 2Q)...— Kyle Fredrickson (@kylefredrickson) August 12, 2018
MIN: 29 plays, 166 yards, 17 points
DEN: 11 plays, 20 yards, 0 points
Lynch, trying to build on that monster 20 total yards of offense in the first half, added three more yards to that total with a 3 yard run from Lindsay and a completed pass for zero yards. However, a sack would negate all of those yards and then some for another Broncos three and out.
A huge punt from King pinned the Vikings back to their own 12-yard line. Siemian was nearly sacked for a safety and spiked the ball at the feet of the pass rushers, but the refs decided there was some guy nearby that might have caught it.
Siemian was nearly sacked again, but dumped it off to the running back who juked his way for a 10-yard gain and a first down. Fortunately, the Broncos defense stepped up with an interception on a poor throw in the middle of the field to a wide open tight end.
Royce Freeman took the first down handoff eight yards to the Vikings 23-yard line. Lynch followed it up with a pass down the field into the end zone that was a terrible throw and a terrible decision. Fortunately, DaeSean Hamilton was able to deflect the pass. Hamilton was wide open, but the throw was that bad.
On third down, Freeman took the handoff up the middle and broke a few tackles outside fo a 23-yard touchdown run to finally get the Broncos on the board in this game, 17-7.
I called it over @MileHighReport #Broncos Country. Get used to seeing @rolls_royce21 romping to the endzone. pic.twitter.com/RxOBzwvmWk— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) August 12, 2018
Siemian is deadly with the short pass. He hit running back Roc Thomas for a short screen pass who took it to the house for a 78-yard touchdown pass to put the Vikings up 24-7.
After another Broncos three and out, the Vikings were finally stopped on a three and out of their own to bring the first half to the two minute warning.
As if things couldn’t get worse, Broncos much-maligned punt returner Isaiah McKenzie took one to the house for a 77-yards on the next snap to close the gap to 24-14 with just under two minutes to go in the half.
It's obviously early, but I'd think McKenzie secured a roster spot for week 1 tonight #Broncos fans. pic.twitter.com/Txk5pyT5Oz— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) August 12, 2018
Siemian was nearly picked by Will Parks on his first throw of the next drive for what would have been a pick six, but Parks couldn’t hang on. From their own nine-yard line, Siemian handed off to a running back who was buried by Josey Jewell for a three yard loss. On third and long, the Vikings played it safe with another short handoff for a one-yard loss and a punt.
In the two minute drill, Lynch kept it short over the middle to Lindsay for a five-yard gain. Then with under a minute to go, Lynch’s second pass was going to be short again, but he tucked it and tried to run. He was nearly sacked and he threw the ball into the dirt. On third down, Lynch predictably had his ball batted down and the Broncos would leave with yet another three and out.
Now I'm mostly sure. https://t.co/LbtJB4HcN6— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 12, 2018
The savior of Broncos Country was warming up on the sidelines to start the third quarter, but Chad Kelly’s time would have to wait as Kyle Sloter would get the ball first for the Vikings.
Fortunately, the Broncos run defense began rearing its ugly head with some more run stuffs to start up the second half to force a punt.
Vance Joseph pulled a head fake with Kelly and made sure the true savior of Broncos Country continued to lead the offense to more three and outs.
Live look at #Broncos fans watching Paxton Lynch ... pic.twitter.com/cvwLtL3pQv— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) August 12, 2018
Lynch came out with a near incompletion to a wide open receiver over the middle, but he snagged it out of the air at the last second.
If I'm rooting for Lynch, plays like this are every bit as concerning as the pick. His ball placement is bad on an easy throw where the receiver should have had the chance for YAC. pic.twitter.com/D23GvCLWFU— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) August 12, 2018
Two runs and a short pass over the middle later, Lynch was faced with a third and six. Lynch, instead of getting the ball out, tucked it and ran for a few yards and a punt.
At least it wasn’t another three and out. It was a five and out.
On the Vikings next drive, UDFA Jeff Holland showed his talent with a speed rush outside to sack Sloter. The Broncos defense on third and 15 completely shut the Vikings down for another stop, but a 57-yard field goal was good to extend the Vikings lead to 27-14.
Finally. The Broncos mercifully put Lynch back on the bench. Lynch finished 6 / 11 for 24 yards for 2.2 yards per attempt and 1 interception for a 22.2 rating.
The difference between Kelly and Lynch on the football field was stark. Kelly was calm and poised, making quick, accurate throws to open up his first in the NFL. The Broncos went for it on fourth down and Kelly his Lindsay in the flat who took it for a big play up past midfield.
After a false start penalty and a five yard run up the middle, Kelly hit Matt LaCosse on a wheel route who was wide open down the field for the touchdown. The pass was perfect, but there were no defenders in the area anyway. Broncos were able to cut the lead to 27-21.
@ChadKelly_6's first-career touchdown as a Bronco!#MINvsDEN pic.twitter.com/tstQciikYR— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) August 12, 2018
Can Chad Kelly get some reps with the 2s now, please? Thank God I have a reason to stay awake now.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 12, 2018
Lynch had a rough day, which should - under normal competitive environments - left the door open for the guy behind him on the depth chart to pass him up for the job. We’ll have to see if Kelly gets the chance.
Kyle Sloter hasn’t been able to reproduce the magic of his 2017 preseason run in his first game of the 2018. He and the Vikings were forced to punt to start the fourth quarter, giving Chad Kelly another chance to close in on that 6-point lead.
Kelly led off the next drive with an intermediate, accurate throw splitting coverage for a solid gain and a first down. Phillip Lindsay then took a run outside for five yards, before a high snap nearly led to disaster. Kelly snagged the ball and was able to throw it for an incompletion in the dirt.
Again, Kelly at least stays calm here. That means a lot for a young QB. pic.twitter.com/TPBvBuCGF3— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) August 12, 2018
On third down, Kelly fired a pass beyond the sticks to Tim Patrick for a first down. On the very next play, a 20 yard dart to the tight end Austin Parker into Minnesota territory.
After Kelly threw his first incompletion, he hit Lindsay on a screen pass for a short four yard gain. On third and six, Kelly pump faked and ducked under the pass rush to dart up the middle for a 17-yard run to get the Broncos inside the red zone.
Kelly’s next pass was batted down and the Vikings stuffed the running play that came next. On third and 11 from the Vikings 18 yard line, Chad Kelly hit Phillip Lindsay on a quick slant for the touchdown and the lead. The stadium roared chanting, “Kelly! Kelly! Kelly!”.
QB @ChadKelly_6 finds @I_CU_Boy for six! #MINvsDEN pic.twitter.com/u2LMkzBF61— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) August 12, 2018
With the 28-27 lead, Kelly had gone 8 / 11 for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the game so far.
The fun didn’t last as Sloter and the Vikings marched right down the field and into the Broncos red zone. After they scored the touchdown, they also got the two-point conversion to make it a 35-28 lead with six minutes left in the game.
On the next drive, Kelly tried to push the ball down the field a little too aggressively as it was picked off.
As @Skotty_Payne just told me, Chad Kelly just "yolo'd".— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 12, 2018
Sloter would lead another touchdown to put this game on ice 42-28.
The Broncos will not play Su’a Cravens, Tramaine Brock, Joe Jones, Todd Davis, Menelik Watson, Jeff Heuerman, Troy Fumagalli, and Clinton McDonald in this first preseason game against the Vikings.
The Denver Broncos will host the Minnesota Vikings in each teams’ preseason opener on Saturday, August 11, 2018. The starters are expected to play two series max, which will give everyone an opportunity to get a long and hard look at the second and third string players compete for roster spots.
The most important reps to watch will come from the offensive side of the ball. The players and coaching staff are excited for the first game. It’ll give them all a chance to put practice to reality.
“We’re excited about it,” Head Coach Vance Joseph said on Thursday. “[Minnesota] is a really good football team, it’s a really good defensive football team, so we’re excited for the challenge. Offensively, they’ve been really good in the past. They’ve been really efficient running the football. They have two good receivers, they have a good young back, a good tight end and obviously the quarterback they signed is a special player. In all three phases, it’s going to be a challenge for us. It’s going to be fun to watch how we match their intensity. It’s a tough, big football team so I’m looking forward to it.”
Joseph went on to note the things he’ll personally be wanting to see on Saturday. It’s all about discipline and execution, which were both areas we all saw were lacking last season. If Joseph is going to survive as a head coach in the league, he’ll need to get that aspect of his teams corrected from Day 1 of the 2018 season.
“You want to see if you’re in good condition, you want to see if you’re a disciplined football team—that’s important—and you want to see how tough you are,” Joseph said. “Obviously, you want to win the game, but I think inside of winning these games, you can get a lot done.”
This is something we can all get behind, but as we saw last year, the words didn’t often match the results. It’s time for us to see some results.
Broncos vs. Vikings game time
Location: Broncos Stadium at Mile High
Game time: Saturday, August 11, 2018, 7:00 p.m. Mile High Time
TV channel: NFL Network or locally on KTVD-Channel 20
Online Stream: NFL Gamepass or fuboTV (try for free)
Replay: NFL Network and NFL Gamepass
Radio: KOA - 850AM/94.1FM & The Fox - 103.5 FM. En Español - KNVR 1150 AM
Matchup history: Vikings lead preseason series with Broncos 7-5.
Odds: Vikings -1
Prediction: Broncos 23, Vikings 17
Announcers: Steve Levy (play-by-play), Brian Griese (analyst), Rod Mackey (sideline)
Enemy blog: Daily Norseman
Twitter: Mile High Report
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2018 Broncos Preseason Schedule
|1||Saturday, August 11||Minnesota Vikings||7:00 p.m. MT||NFL Network/KTVD|
|2||Saturday, August 18||Chicago Bears||7:05 p.m. MT||KTVD-Channel 20|
|3||Friday, August 24||at Washington Redskins||5:30 p.m. MT||KTVD-Channel 20|
|4||Thursday, August 30||at Arizona Cardinals||5:00 p.m. MT||NFL Network/KTVD|