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Broncos run game and defense showed up in preseason finale vs. Vikings

The Denver Broncos had a strong showing from their rushing attack, but it was the defense that stole the show against the Minnesota Vikings.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos finished out their preseason strong as they saw their rushing attack finally show up. After being non-existent in the first two preseason games, the Broncos gained 148 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings. That effort and a strong defensive performance helped them to a 23-13 win to close out the 2022 preseason.

In the battle for backup quarterback, it would seem Brett Rypien came away the winner over Josh Johnson. But we could see both end up on the waiver wire in a few days.

Bring on the regular season!

Game Recap

Brett Rypien started the game and was not given a good starting position as rookie Jalen Virgil muffed the opening kickoff out of bounds at the Broncos three yard line. That didn’t deter Rypien and the Broncos as they marched down the field behind short, consistent completions and a solid rushing attack from Mike Boone. The drive ended with Rypien trying to hit KJ Hamler on a slant into the end zone. The ball was tipped high up the air and intercepted.

The Vikings got the ball inside of their five yard line from there, but they would not be able to do much more than get the ball out near midfield before Broncos inside linebacker Alex Singleton dropped a likely pick six to force fourth down and a punt.

Denver would get points on their next drive with Brandon McManus crushing a 50 yard field goal attempt to take an early 3-0 lead.

The biggest concern on defense all preseason has been a leaky run defense. They came out strong in the first quarter, but midway through the second quarter they were getting gashed. Despite that, they stuffed three consecutive run plays inside the three yard line in a tremendous goal line stand.

From all the replays I saw, it looked like the the runner was stopped just past his shoulder with the ball not crossing the plane. The referees must have had a better view and overturned the fourth down goal line stand to put the Vikings up 7-3 in the first half.

Rypien immediately found Seth Williams on a 45-yard bomb to open the next drive.

That spurred an offensive onslaught of good plays that culminated on an end around to rookie Montrell Washington who easily ran through the defense on his way to an 11 yard touchdown to put Denver back up 10-7 over Minnesota.

The final minute of the first half was a little bit crazy. McTelvin Agim got a sack and strip fumble that was scooped up by Baron Browning and returned for a 17-yard touchdown.

The Vikings then still had enough time to get into field goal range to cut the lead to 17-10 at the halftime buzzer.

Josh Johnson got the nod at quarterback to start the second half. Rypien had his ups and downs in the first half, which didn’t quite line up with head coach Nathaniel Hackett’s call for consistency at quarterback. When he was on he was on, but he had some bad drives as well.

For Johnson, his first drive started much like Rypien’s. A Vikings punt was downed at Denver’s two yard line. Johnson got out of that with a pass to running back Devine Ozigbo and then Ozigbo got back to back runs for 26 yards. The drive would stall on a completed pass a yard short of the fourth down marker at midfield.

The third quarter would end scoreless for both teams anyway.

The fourth quarter began with a boom with Vikings’ kicker Greg Joseph nailing a 58-yard field goal to cut the Broncos lead to 17-13.

The Vikings were in position to take the lead midway through the fourth quarter, but on fourth and goal rookie Delarrin Turner-Yell flew across the line of scrimmage outside for a drive-crushing sack.

Johnson, while not leading the Broncos to a scoring drive in the second half, did get a nice pass to Jalen Virgil to convert a third down to take the game under the four minute mark. The drive ended on a drop on third down, but McManus was there to put Denver back up 20-13 with three minutes to go in the game.

The Vikings hopes would end with back-to-back sacks by Nik Bonitto to force a fourth and 27. McTelvin Agim continued his monster game with a batted pass to give the Broncos the ball back inside the Vikings 10 yard line. Denver would wrap things up from there with another McManus field goal to close out the preseason with a 2-1 record.


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