Siemian Hangs In Long Enough to Lead Broncos ComebackBy Jonathon Natsis
A big question mark at quarterback was supposed to derail of coronation of the Denver Broncos Thursday night in Colorado. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers had improved on offense, and simply fielded too good a defense. The narrative was the same in the lead up to the Super Bowl, and so was the outcome. But this time it was not Peyton Manning, but the unknown Trevor Siemian who grabbed the reigns and held tough to give the defending champs a 1-0 start.
Siemian was undeterred by a rocky start that saw his offense move the ball efficiently between the red zones, but fail to come away with points. A productive first drive ended in a fumble on RB Devontae Booker’s first-ever carry.
When Denver next looked threatening, Siemian had to unload the ball under duress. The pass was tipped by Star Lotulelei and intercepted by the aware Thomas Davis. As the Panthers cruised to a 10-point lead at halftime, it appeared the baptism of fire would end miserably for the former seventh-rounder.
But finally – one halftime break and another interception later – Siemian began to take advantage of some shrewd and patient playcalling. The run-first Broncos refused to abandon the ground game, feeding workhorse tailback C.J. Anderson 20 times for 92 yards and a touchdown. Anderson added another score through the air on a screen pass, the first (and perhaps easiest) of Siemian’s career.
Young Trevor didn’t flinch in the face of a fast and furious front seven. He kept the game close for just long enough to ensure the infamous Denver altitude would start getting to his opposition. And get to Carolina it did. As the Panthers’ pass protection grew lethargic in the fourth quarter, Denver’s pass rush started to loosen up. The result was a series of brutal – at times, borderline illegal – hits on Cam that ushered in the heated competitiveness of football we’ve so sorely missed.
When the dust settled, it was once again Denver’s defense that had soundly won yet another game. But in spite of the hiccups, mistakes and signs of inexperience, one thing became clear: the Broncos will no longer be winning in spite of their quarterback. The kid’s got heart, poise and resilience in spades. Prime Peyton he isn’t, but the Broncos just want him to keep being Young Trevor for now.