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Lynch shines as Broncos beat Cardinals in preseason finale

Henry Chisholm Avatar
August 31, 2018

Facing what had a chance to be his last game as a Bronco, Paxton Lynch did everything he could to make the Broncos rethink that on Thursday night.

The Broncos beat the Cardinals 21-10 on the back of a strong outing from the former first-round pick.

Lynch came into the game at the start of the second half facing a 7-3 deficit. He led the Broncos down the field for three straight scoring drives, totaling 18 points. The next drive stalled at the Arizona 39 and Brandon McManus missed the field goal attempt, his only miss of the preseason.

While Lynch shined at quarterback, Chad Kelly took a small step backward in the game.

In his first drive, Kelly rode De’Angelo Henderson down the field and into field goal range before throwing an ugly interception to Jacquies Smith on the 10th play of the series. Kelly was pressured on the throw by an edge rusher and seemed to panic as he threw the ball into double-coverage just a few yards past the line of scrimmage.

The Broncos didn’t pick up a first down on either of their next two drives and fell behind 7-0. Their first score came on a field goal with under five minutes left in the half after an 11-play drive. Kelly finished the game with a 60.4 passer rating and 126 yards on 12 of 19 passing to go along with the pick.

With Royce Freeman, Devontae Booker and Phillip Lindsay sitting out of the game as healthy scratches, Henderson and David Williams split all of the time at running back. Henderson posted 70 yards on 14 touches, and Williams had 88 on 19. Wide receiver Jordan Leslie broke out for 70 receiving yards and a touchdown on five catches.

Defensively, the Broncos held strong against everything the Cardinals threw at them. Denver only gave up 162 total yards — 78 through the air and 84 on the ground. Arizona had five three-and-outs and averaged just over four plays per drive.

DeShawn Williams put together a strong performance with a sack, two quarterback hits and a tackle for loss, and Will Parks made a couple of plays with little playing time.

The Broncos finished the preseason at 2-2, after losing their first two contests. They have until 2 pm on Saturday to cut their roster from 90 players to 53.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Paxton Lynch had arguably his best game as a Bronco on Thursday. It came against third-stringers in a meaningless preseason game, but that doesn’t mean the third-year quarterback wasn’t sharp.

Lynch threw for 128 yards on 14 of 15 passing with two touchdowns. He also quarterbacked two touchdown drives and set up two field goal attempts in five series. The outlier was a three-and-out on the Broncos’ last possession of the game while they were trying to run clock.

PLAY OF THE GAME

After the Broncos scored to gain a seven-point lead late in the third quarter, Arizona took over at the 25 on a touchback. After two incomplete passes, the Cardinals faced a 3rd & 10.

Jeff Holland rushed off the left edge and got a hand on the quarterback as he dropped back in the pocket. Marcus Rush ran around the other side and knocked the ball out of the quarterback’s hand. Holland picked it up, setting up a four-play, 23-yard drive to extend the lead to 21-7.

QUOTE OF THE GAME

“Right now, he’s our two. Things could change, but right now, he’s our two.” — Vance Joseph on Chad Kelly

BY THE NUMBERS

78 — Passing yards allowed by the Broncos on Thursday

90 — Brandon McManus’ preseason field goal percentage

141.8 — Paxton Lynch’s passer rating on Thursday

WHAT’S NEXT

The Broncos open the regular season against the Seahawks at Mile High Stadium at 2:25 p.m.

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