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Broncos backups struggle against Bills in second preseason game

The Denver Broncos were not interested in competing with 1’s versus 1’s in this game and the 42-15 final score against the Buffalo Bills reflected that.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos second preseason game went about as one would expect given the Buffalo Bills intended to play their starters, while Broncos’ head coach Nathaniel Hackett had zero intention of putting his starting roster at risk in a meaningless preseason game.

There were a few bright spots for Denver in this game. The kick and punt returners all had nice games regardless of who was back there returning kicks. The second-string offense also had some early success against the Bills’ starting unit. There wasn’t much else to talk about in this game as the Broncos were going to be overmatched from the start no matter what. The 42-15 defeat means little in the grand scheme.

First Quarter

Against the Bills starting defense, Josh Johnson and the Broncos offense nearly stumbled out of the gates with a poor throw on first down and a stuffed run on second down. But on third down, Johnson found rookie wide receiver Montrell Washington over the middle for a 19 yard gain to kickstart the opening drive.

A really ticky-tack holding call by Bill Vinovich couldn’t derail the Broncos second-string offense as they converted a 1st and 20 to a 3rd and 1 to another first down to get into field goal range. The run game was alive on this drive too, which was nice to see.

The drive came down to a fourth down inside the 20, but head coach Nathaniel Hackett opted to bring out Brandon McManus to get the points to cap a 12-play, 61 yard opening drive for the Broncos second-string offense.

Broncos 3, Bills 0.

Against the Broncos second-string defense, things went about as predictably as you’d expect. Josh Allen and the Bills offense marched right down the field in six plays for 70 yards capping their opening drive off with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Davis to put the Bills up late in the first quarter.

Bills 7, Broncos 3.

Montrell Washington showed up again in special teams on the ensuing kickoff with a 35-yard return.

Unfortunately, the Bills first-team defense stymied the offense from the start to force what would have been an immediate three and out. An illegal contact penalty gave the Broncos offense a second chance. A second chance that also led to an immediate three and out for the Bills starting defense.

The Bills’ Case Keenum show began from there. He would be the only backup on offense as the rest of the starters remained in the game.

Second Quarter

Keenum and the Bills would march right down the field to score a touchdown. The Broncos second-string defensive line was getting pushed around by both the first-string and second-string Bills offensive line to start this game. They were making it look easy.

Bills 14, Broncos 3.

Undrafted rookie wide receiver Jalen Virgil got a chance to return a kick and took advantage of the opportunity with a 35-yard return.

Finally getting another first down on offense, Josh Johnson connected with another rookie wide receiver in Brandon Johnson who turned the slant up field for a first down. That would spark the Broncos offense down the field and into field goal range before the drive would stall out. A 15-yard face mask penalty on Buffalo did help.

Bills 14, Broncos 6.

The Broncos second-string defense continued to be eviscerated in this game. Michael Ojemudia had a particularly rough first half and he ultimately went down with an injury late in the second quarter. The Bills drive would end with a touchdown anyway.

Bills 21, Broncos 6.

The one bright spot on that second-string defense in the first half was rookie edge rusher Nik Bonitto.

The half would come an end with the Broncos defense outlasting the Bills offense in a two-minute drill. The Bills offense amassed over 300 total yards in the first half and didn’t look like they had any problem on any of their drives to produce. The first half would end with another score for Buffalo as the Broncos defense melted down committing a slew of errors after forcing the Bills out of field goal range and into a 3rd and 20.

Bills 28, Broncos 6.

Third Quarter

Despite the Bills finally having their third-stringers out there to start the second half, the Broncos defense continued to get run over and run through.

The Bills marched right down the field like Josh Allen were still in the game to put them up by four touchdowns.

Bills 35, Broncos 6.

Brett Rypien was on point early on in his first drive in the game, but he would begin to misfire on the Bills side of the field leading to a McManus 55-yard field goal.

Bills 35, Broncos 9.

Fourth Quarter

The Bills would not stop scoring touchdowns on every drive as all of Broncos Country would begin to look ahead of this game.

Bills 42, Broncos 9.

One very important tweet came out around now that pointed out that the Los Angeles Rams played their backups all through the preseason last year and went 0-3. They would go on to win the Super Bowl, so this score and this game truly doesn’t mean a thing.

Rypien would ultimately lead the offense to finally give Denver their first touchdown drive of the game with just under 11 minutes left in the game. They would go for a two-point conversion and fail, but at least they reached the double-digit mark in points.

Bills 42, Broncos 15.

Denver’s defense did finally get a stop midway through the fourth quarter forcing Buffalo’s first punt of the game. Rypien continued to impress against the Bills third-stringers. He connected a big pass to Jalen Virgil on third and long deep in their own side of the field to kick off their drive into Bills territory.

As the game wound down to the end, Rypien led the offense into the Bills red zone with less than two minutes to go in the game. From the Bills eight yard line, Rypien would try to run it up inside on second down for just two yards. Then on third and goal from the seven, Rypien’s inside handoff to Stevie Scott went for two yards to setup a fourth and goal from the five yard line.

That fourth and goal pass would be well covered and Rypien would be sacked for a big loss to end the game.


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