CINCINNATI (AP) – Four touchdown passes, more than 300 yards passing, two clutch touchdown drives in the fourth quarter.
Trevor Siemian played every bit like Peyton Manning in his first road start.
In some ways, even better.
Siemian was nearly perfect as he rallied the Denver Broncos to a 29-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, leading a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives with veteran aplomb.
The defending Super Bowl champions’ biggest offseason challenge was replacing their famous quarterback, and it looks as if they made the right choice. They’re 3-0 under Siemian, who took over after Manning retired and Brock Osweiler went to Houston.
Siemian became the first Bronco to throw for four touchdowns since Manning in 2014 against the Dolphins. No NFL quarterback had thrown for 300 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in their road debut, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
PHOTO GALLERY: Broncos 29, Bengals 17
“Obviously going in, nobody really knew about him,” said Emmanuel Sanders, who caught the first two touchdowns. “Now everybody’s starting to talk about him. He’s always calm, cool and collected, even in the fourth quarter. You should have seen the way he took command in the huddle.”
Trailing at the start of the fourth quarter, Siemian completed 11 of 12 passes while rallying the Broncos to those fourth-quarter touchdowns. He finished 23 of 35 for 312 yards and a passer rating of 132.1.
“I’m still learning a lot,” Siemian said. “There are a couple of plays I’d like to do over again.”
Siemian had a 41-yard touchdown pass to Sanders to get it started, and stood in under a heavy rush and connected with Demaryius Thomas on a 55-yard score with 4:23 left to clinch it. Sanders finished with nine catches for 117 yards.
The Bengals got their dormant running game going, but were still out of sync as they fell to 1-2 for the first time in five years. Jeremy Hill ran for a pair of touchdowns and 97 yards – huge strides for Cincinnati’s pass-heavy offense – but Andy Dalton couldn’t do much after the Bengals fell behind.
“We’re still trying to find ourselves,” said receiver A.J. Green, who had eight catches for 77 yards but dropped a pivotal third-down pass. “We’ve got to be more consistent.”
Broncos safety T.J. Ward hurt his neck late in the first quarter but returned. The Broncos were already missing safety Justin Simmons. … Bengals kicker Mike Nugent suffered a shoulder injury while helping to make a tackle during a kickoff return in the second quarter but later made a field goal.
UP AND RUNNING … BRIEFLY
After two games of getting virtually nothing out of their running game, the Bengals made it a point of emphasis and got immediate results. Hill, who had a total of 53 yards in the first two games, broke off a 50-yard run on Cincinnati’s opening possession – his longest run since 2014. He capped the drive with a 3-yard TD run, giving the Bengals a season high in rushing after one series. Denver clamped down the rest of the way.
The Bengals are 6-4 in their past nine games at Paul Brown Stadium, including a first-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh.
Ward raised his right fist during the anthem, the first time he’s made such a gesture. Brandon Marshall again went to his knee behind the front line of players.
The Broncos switched their offensive line, with Ty Sambrailo starting at right tackle in place of Donald Stephenson, who has a strained calf. Sambrailo got called for holding late in the first half, but Siemian had enough time for his big game. He was sacked only twice.
AGGIE VS AGGIE
Bengals right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi got to block Von Miller, who was a teammate at Texas A&M for one season. In his third NFL start, Ogbuehi – a first-round pick last season – got caught holding the Super Bowl MVP once and gave up one of Denver’s four sacks.
The Broncos play at Tampa Bay next Sunday.
The Bengals have a quick turnaround, getting ready to host the Dolphins on Thursday night.
THEY SAID IT
Broncos: “That’s what we’ve been waiting for man. That’s a huge step forward for our team to do that on the road against a playoff team.” – cornerback Chris Harris Jr.
Bengals: “It’s still early. There’s a lot to be accomplished.” – Andy Dalton.
– By JOE KAY, AP Sports Writer
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