By Rick Brown
DENVER (CBS4) – After a preseason full of quarterback controversy, Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback Trevor Siemian is making Vance Johnson look really good about his decision to start him instead of second-year QB Paxton Lynch. Siemian was methodical and effective in Monday night’s game against the LA Chargers, as he threw for two touchdowns to Bennie Fowler and rushed for one.
The Broncos defense continued to dominate on Monday night, but still needs help along the defensive line, and Denver’s special team was reliable and able to make some big plays. Things were looking good until the last 12 minutes of the game, when Denver was unable to convert a trip into the red zone.
Luckily for the Broncos, they were able to stop a game-tying field goal by Chargers placekicker Younghoe Koo to escape Monday night’s game with a narrow 24-21 victory in the Mile High City.
It appears some of the Broncos’ rushing woes may have been fixed. The Broncos finally reached more than 100 yards and were converting on short yardage situations.
C.J. Anderson had a strong start to the game with 32 yards through one quarter. Garett Bolles made an impressive debut as he was continually left to block one-on-one against either Joey Bosa or Melvin Ingram of the Chargers. The right side of the line did not perform as well, as Menelik Watson allowed a few quarterback hurries and hits.
There should be no more quarterback controversy after Siemian’s outing against the Chargers. He had 20 yards rushing along with a rushing touchdown and was able to cash in on the the Chargers’ interception. Just as things were looking up for the Broncos and their poor performance in short yardage situations was improving, they were unable to convert a trip into the red zone.
The Broncos had limited success on the offensive side of the ball once the fourth quarter started. They were unable to close out the game as the team turned the ball over twice in the final quarter. One interception and one fumble led to 14 points for the Chargers.
Broncos fans may have had a case of deja vu as Chargers’ running back Melvin Gordon was explosive on the field. Gordon was averaging 6 yards per carry through the first quarter. The Broncos’ defense really needed to stop Gordon from getting into the end zone, and they finally did a decent job of doing so after halftime.
Denver made some key adjustments after halftime and the Chargers only rushed for 58 yards. The No Fly Zone was looking just as potent as last year’s unit as Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby intercepted Phillip Rivers in the third quarter. The interception was caused by the Broncos’ pass rush. After the Broncos’ forced a turnover, the defense continued to terrorize Rivers as Shaq Barrett recorded his first sack of the 2017 season. Then the offense started to putter out and the defense began to give up big plays.
The Denver defense had to defend against a short field after two turnovers, and was unable to stop the Chargers’ offense as Rivers threw two more touchdowns. After failing all of last year to score any points during a two-minute drill, Rivers led the Chargers down the field for a game-tying field goal. The Chargers were unable to convert on the last-second 44-yard field goal attempt as Broncos’ defensive end Shelby Harris blocked the kick by rookie kicker Younghoe Koo.
Special Teams: B
Cody Latimer continues to shine on special teams. The former second round pick made a big stop in the second quarter. Brandon McManus signed a new 4-year deal this week, and then went 1 for 2 on field goal attempts. Isaiah McKenzie did a good job returning punts and may finally give the Broncos fans something exciting to watch on punt returns.
Rookie head coach Vance Johnson made a gutsy call when he iced Chargers’ rookie kicker Younghoe Koo. During Koo’s second attempt at a game-tying field goal, Broncos player Shelby Harris was able to bust through and deflect the kick, ensuring a Broncos’ victory.
Mike McCoy’s offense put up 140 yards of rushing, and made Siemian’s job all that much easier.
Defensive coordinator Joe Woods did a decent job of containing the Chargers. While he did a good job at adjusting at halftime against Gordon, the No Fly Zone was giving up big plays all over the field. This coaching staff needs to focus on closing out games.
A Big Test Next Week Against The Dallas Cowboys
Next week, the Broncos meet the Dallas Cowboys in another home game in Denver. Both the Broncos and the Cowboys still have a bit of the offseason rust to brush off before next week’s game. The Cowboys only scored 19 points in their season opening win against the Giants, but dominated on defense. While the Broncos got off to a fast start against L.A., the team narrowly won as the Chargers’ rookie kicker had a game-tying field goal blocked. Look for the Cowboys to continue with the same game plan as the team looks for a victory in the Mile High City.