ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (The Sports Xchange) – Emmanuel Sanders was all smiles in the wake of the Denver Broncos’ 27-7 throttling of the Buccaneers on Sunday.
He’d had another solid game, catching eight passes for 88 yards. After four weeks, he’s on a 1,100-yard, 100-catch pace. He has three touchdowns in the last two weeks — and in the fourth quarter, he caught Paxton Lynch’s first regular-season touchdown pass.
“That’s the first of many,” Sanders said, smiling.
It’s not one that anyone expected, but no one expected Trevor Siemian to be carted back to the locker room late in the second quarter with a left shoulder injury suffered after Tampa Bay’s Clinton McDonald slammed him to the ground on a second-quarter sack.
Siemian could have returned in the second half, Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said, but the team opted to play Lynch. There were some missed throws, but he escaped Tampa Bay’s pressure, didn’t make the big mistake and guided the offense on three scoring drives — including a third-quarter march that chewed up 7:57 of the clock — that turned a close game into a romp.
“You never know until he gets thrown into the fire,” Kubiak said. “We need to get a little more tempo and we need to get out of the huddle a little better. Those are things a young kid struggles with, but I thought he handled himself well.
“He made some big third downs for us. He got the ball down the field, and I really liked the way he avoided some bad plays and threw the ball away. I thought that was impressive.”
But that doesn’t mean Lynch will start next week. A day later, Kubiak reiterated that Siemian remains the starting quarterback, and that if he’s healthy, he will play against the Falcons next week.
However, the Broncos now know that they have two young quarterbacks who can run their offense — and run it well.
“We’re probably going to need them both,” Kubiak said. “It’s just kind of the nature of the business now a days. Here we are, four weeks into the season, and we’ve used them both to get to where we’re at. It’s exciting to watch both of them grow and both of them prepare each week. I think they both have bright futures. That’s great for our organization.”
— After his second interception off Jameis Winston in the first half, Aqib Talib couldn’t help but get overcome by celebration, blowing kisses to the fans in the Raymond James Stadium stands who once cheered him during five seasons with Tampa Bay.
Talib’s triumphant return to the home stadium of the team that drafted him saw two interceptions — including one on Winston’s first pass — that set up two of the Broncos’ three touchdowns.
“Any time you come home, you’ve gotta snap,” said cornerback Chris Harris Jr. “If I ever play against the Broncos — Lord willing, I don’t — you’ve got to go off.”
“He had a point to prove coming back here,” defensive end Derek Wolfe added.
The only disappointment for Talib? He didn’t score on either of them, which would have given him his second touchdown of the season.
“I definitely could have scored on both of them, according to the iPad,” he said, referring to the device on which he watches the All-22 film after the game. “I definitely could have scored on both of them so I have to get better at that.”