ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (The Sports Xchange) – The following are the grades for the Broncos from The Sports Xchange following their 29-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
PASSING OFFENSE: A – Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian answered questions about his ability to go deep and his timing with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders with two deep touchdown strikes. But just as valuable was the trust he engendered in the coaches. With a five-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, coach Gary Kubiak opted to come out throwing with Siemian, and he found Jeff Heuerman for a 29-yard gain on the first play of that series. The more Siemian does, the more confidence his coaches will have in him — and the more confidence he will gain.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus – There were no turnovers, but the Broncos were forced to go away from the ground game early as the Bengals crowded the box and dared Siemian to throw. The gamble backfired for the Bengals, but the combined production of just 45 yards on 18 carries for C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker was easily a season-low.
PASS DEFENSE: A – Only a late-game drive in which Andy Dalton went 7-of-8 passing for 85 yards while behind two scores kept the Broncos from a statistical line that reflected their dominance in neutralizing Cincinnati’s passing game. The Broncos cranked up the pressure on Dalton, sacking him four times — including two on consecutive plays in the third quarter that took the Bengals out of field-goal range after recovering a Demaryius Thomas fumble.
RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus – After the first series, it looked like the Broncos were headed to their worst performance against the run in quite some time, as Jeremy Hill carried the football four times for 65 yards on the Bengals’ first five plays. But Hill had just 32 yards on 14 carries from that point forward, and even though the Bengals still had 143 yards on 29 carries, they needed Andy Dalton’s 40 yards on six scrambles to reach that point.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C – Margus Hunt’s blocked extra point and Kapri Bibbs’ late hit were lapses that tainted an otherwise solid special teams performance. Punter Riley Dixon delivered long, high blasts when they were needed, although he failed at a chance to pin the Bengals deep in their own territory late with a punt that bounced into the end zone. Dixon ranks 11th in net punting yardage so far this season, so he has been solid in the big picture.
COACHING: A – In-game adjustments helped the Broncos last year, and they provided the difference again Sunday. The Bengals came out running, so the Broncos stacked the box and counted on their cornerbacks to handle Cincinnati’s receivers in man-to-man coverage. As a result, the Bengals’ offense gradually stalled, and mustered just a single field goal in the second half. Offensively, the Broncos began beating the Bengals over the top when they committed a safety into the box to try and contain the ground game.