The Denver Broncos got the ball to start the game and they featured the run game heavily to start. Melvin Gordon III found good push behind Dalton Risner for the game’s first first down.
Melvin Gordon's first carry is a big gain off the left side. pic.twitter.com/AN7Ds9HuA5— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 13, 2020
The drive ended when Drew Lock tried to go to Tim Patrick, but the ball was too high and led him into a big hit by the safety. The drive ended, but at least it wasn’t a three and out.
However, the Carolina Panthers met a swarming Broncos defense on their first possession and quickly saw a three and out to punt the ball back to Drew Lock and the Broncos offense.
Diontae Spencer ran into his own man on the return, but that delay actually opened up a huge lane for him where he took it to the house for a 83-yard punt return for a touchdown to put the Broncos up early.
A usually automatic Brandon McManus whiffed on the extra point to keep the lead at six. This was the first punt return for a touchdown for the Broncos since 2015 when Omar Bolden had one.
Broncos 6, Panthers 0.
Robby Anderson got back-to-back touches to get the Panthers from their own 13-yard line to their own 42-yard line to get their next drive going. After a short pass, Teddy Bridgewater broke through the front for a 14-yard gain into Broncos territory.
Duke Dawson went down with an injury. He was clutching his leg and looked serious. We’ll have to wait and see what extent the injury is, but he was carted off the field.
The Broncos defense got active from there. First a tackle for a loss on first down, then a big sack by Jeremiah Attachou to force a third and 20 at midfield.
Broncos run a stunt and get home. Check out the attention Shelby Harris drew on Jeremiah Attaochu's sack. pic.twitter.com/vrjWncm06E— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 13, 2020
Bridgewater threw a quick pass that was stopped well short of the first down to force the punt. The Broncos were forced to fair catch at the eight yard line.
After a short run, Drew Lock was immediately under duress but got the pass off to Nick Vannett for a first down pass. Phillip Lindsay then got his second reception of the day for a few yards. Gordon then ran it up the middle for five yards to setup a third and one, but he was stuffed on the third down carry to bring out the punt unit.
The Panthers ended the quarter moving the sticks and getting a drive together.