Broncos 16, Cardinals 13: Preseason Week 4 Report Card for Denver
The game featured a number of players trying to earn a spot on the team as many of the starters sat out.
Denver trailed for most of the game but a second-half push brought them back and a late drive got them the win.
So who played well and bolstered their chances to make the final 53-man roster?
Who may find themselves out of work soon?
Here is the report card for the come from behind victory.
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OVERALL GAME GRADE: D
Caleb Hanie had chances to set himself up as the backup to Peyton Manning. Instead the Denver offense failed to convert a single third down, failed to mount a drive of any substance and failed to score a point with Hanie in the game. It wasn't entirely his fault. Hanie was under consistent pressure, but even when he had time he failed to hit open receivers. This surely was not what the coaching staff had hoped for.
Hanie is getting opportunities but he isn't doing anything with them. The Broncos failed to convert a single third-down conversion in the first half. Hanie finishes the half 7 of 13 for 75 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has missed open receivers and took a sack with no timeouts left at the end of the half—leaving the Broncos without points off of a Cardinals turnover. Hanie had a chance to make a strong statement tonight as Peyton Manning's backup. That did not happen.
Solid start for Hanie who gets the start as the coaches give Peyton Manning the night off.
Hanie hits Jason Hill for no gain then puts what would be a first-down pass right on Julius Thomas' hands but Thomas can't pull it in and the Broncos will be forced to punt. Both passes were on the mark.
The second drive is not nearly as good for Hanie. He misses an open Andre Caldwell on first down and is then sacked on third down as the Broncos go three and out.
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OVERALL GAME GRADE: C
The first half was atrocious. There is just no sidestepping that. Caleb Hanie looked erratic and the offensive line was very mediocre. The lone bright spot of the first half may have been the play of running back Knowshon Moreno who ran hard and finished the half with 49 yards on seven carries.
The second half was improved. Brock Osweiler led the offense on multiple drives and managed to put points on the board when they had to. Ronnie Hillman had another strong showing and finished the game with 14 carries for 68 yards. Third string quarterback Adam Weber led the game-winning drive by completing a 45-yard pass to wide receiver Greg Orton with under :20 seconds to play. Tight end Virgil Green, wide receiver Gerell Robinson, and running back Jeremiah Johnson all made plays that will make for some very tough decisions by the coaching staff.
Timeout by Denver and the Broncos will get a chance to win the game on a field-goal attempt by Matt Prater.
The offense takes over with only about :58 seconds left. Adam Weber will get a chance to get the win for the Broncos here. Weber goes deep and Greg Orton goes up and gets it. Big play by the Broncos offense for 45 yards to the Arizona 23-yard line.
Adam Weber is now in the game at quarterback with just under three minutes to play. With the score 13-10 Weber may not attempt a pass. Three straight handoffs and the Broncos will punt again.
Following the interception by the Denver defense the offense takes over at the Arizona 29-yard line. The offense fails to generate a first down and Matt Prater will attempt a field goal to give Denver the lead.
Osweiler scrambles to the one yard line on third and goal and Denver will attempt the field goal. That was a 94-yard drive for Osweiler and the offense.
Osweiler completes a pass to Gerell Robinson and once again the offense is moving. Osweiler hits another pass to Greg Orton and then Hillman picks up another first down. The Broncos are inside the Cardinals' 20.
With the offense backed up to its own five yard line, running back Ronnie Hillman cuts back, reverses his field and picks up 20 yards. Hillman can be a very nice change of pace back, he is shifty and elusive.
Caleb Hanie's night is done. Rookie Brock Osweiler will start the second half. Rookie running back Ronnie Hillman is now in the game behind Osweiler and he picks up the first third-down conversion of the night for Denver. Osweiler hits fellow rookie Gerell Robinson for a 15-yard gain and the Broncos are inside the Arizona 30-yard line. Osweiler locks onto his receiver and Cardinals defensive back Crezdon Butler reads his eyes and picks off the pass returning it 20 yards to the Arizona 35-yard line. And just like that the the best drive of the night for Denver is over.
The Denver offense gets a second chance after the defense causes a fumble. They will take over at the Arizona 29. Hanie is sacked on first down but hits Virgil Green to the eight yard line. Hanie overthrows Andre Caldwell on an end-zone fade. Hanie is then sacked and the first half clock runs out. Denver gets no points out of the possession.
Three minutes left in the first half and Hanie connects with tight end Virgil Green for 23 yards out to the Denver 41. Hanie runs 11 yards for a first down but is then sacked for a short loss. There's now 1:13 left in the first half. Hanie throws a deep-ball down the middle for Jason Hill but the pass is a little underthrown and batted away by the defender. On third down Hanie overthrows Lance Ball and it's another punt for Colquitt. The Broncos are 0-5 on third downs tonight.
Another good run by Knowshon Moreno as he goes outside on the left and picks up 17 yards. The Broncos are at midfield—by far their best field position of the night so far. The drive stalls after a holding penalty and another punt is upcoming. Kyle Orton thinks this offense is boring.
Hanie throws a quick screen to Greg Orton for a six-yard gain and then Moreno running hard picks up a first down. So no three and out this time at least. I have been a critic of Moreno but he is running as though his job is on the line...which it is. This drive will end again on a sack of Hanie. They will punt again.
Offensive line is looking strong up front and Knowshon Moreno is running hard to try to make this team.
Another three and out for this unit. Knowshon Moreno is running hard but to no avail.
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OVERALL GAME GRADE: B-
The defense bent a few times but it managed to make a few plays when it had to and the Cardinals missed a couple field goals which helped.
The defense featured a few players that stepped up their games tonight. Linebackers Danny Trevathan and Nate Irving were all over the field. Malik Jackson had another impressive night. Tony Carter and Omar Bolden both made a number of plays. Ben Garland made a few plays in the second half. There are going to be some solid players who get cut from the defensive side of the ball.
On first down with just over two minutes left Lindley goes deep to Isaiah Williams who is behind Syd'Quan Thompson for a 56-yard gain to the Denver 13-yard line. The defense holds on three straight plays and Arizona will attempt a field goal to tie the game.
Tony Carter is the player of this series. With just over four minutes to play Carter breaks up two passes and forces the Cards to punt. He then returns a 43-yard punt for 10 yards. Carter is making a push to make this squad.
Syd'Quan Thompson catches an errant throw by Ryan Lindley and returns it 11 yards to the Arizona 29-yard line. Another turnover for the Denver defense. The offense needs to take advantage of the interception.
The Broncos defense gives up a first down but holds and forces a punt.
Bartel throws a 50-yard completion on first down to WR Isaiah Williams, who beat Syd'Quan Thompson deep. The defense steps up and makes two plays for losses following the big pass. Ben Garland is in on another sack. Bartel is going to leave the game briefly after taking a hard shot. The Cardinals will try another field goal. Jay Feely finally makes one to make it 10-0 Cardinals. The big pass-play was the only play of the drive and nets them three points.
Arizona will get the ball to start the second half. Richard Bartel is now at quarterback for the Cardinals. Ben Garland earns his first sack on first down but the Cardinals move the chains on two straight completions by Bartel. Danny Trevathan is working hard to make this team. He breaks up a pass this time and has been all over the field. Jay Feely misses a 50-yard field goal after the defense gives up some yardage.
Steven Johnson causes a fumble by DeMarco Sampson and Nate Irving recovers it. Best play of the night so far by the Broncos defense. The Broncos will take over deep in Arizona territory.
Malik Jackson forces Lindley to slip and fall down and picks up an easy sack. He has been very visible tonight as has linebacker Danny Trevathan. Trevathan is flying all over the field making tackles. The Cardinals will have to punt.
The defense had the Cardinals in a 3rd-and-five from their own 20-yard line. Lindley has no pressure and manages to complete a 27-yard pass to LaRon Byrd.
Nate Irving just blasted Lindley on a delayed blitz. The pass falls incomplete. The Broncos hold the Cardinals for the first time tonight and force a punt
The backup unit is again being pushed off the ball. Arizona is driving. They are now inside the Denver 25. Amazing touchdown catch by the rookie Michael Floyd off of a deflection. Touchdown Cardinals.
Malik Jackson has had a very nice preseason. He makes another tackle for a loss on Beanie Wells in the Cardinals' backfield but the Arizona offense is now in Denver territory.
A Jim Leonhard sighting! The veteran safety makes a tackle. First time we have seen Leonhard in live action so far.
The defense finally gets a break when the Cardinals initial drive stalls due to a holding penalty and Jay Feely misses a 40-yard field goal.
A pressure on Arizona quarterback Ryan Lindley by Robert Ayers forces Lindley to underthrow his receiver. Drayton Florence makes an interception but it is negated by a roughing-the-passer call on Ayers. Bad call by the replacement officials. Ayers was on him as he released the pass. And with the penalty the Cardinals are again in Denver territory.
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OVERALL GAME GRADE: A-
What can you say? The special teams unit won this game. Omar Bolden's 102-yard kickoff return ignited the Broncos. Matt Prater hit a 44-yard field goal with seconds remaining to win the game and punter Britton Colquitt was consistent all night. Aside from a late penalty for fair catch interference the special teams made very few mistakes.
Prater will attempt a 44-yard field goal to win it with :02 seconds left. He drills it. Game over, Broncos 16 Cardinals 13.
Colquitt booms a 48-yard punt but David Bruton interferes with the returner making a fair catch. Fair catch interference is called and Arizona will have the ball just outside the 30-yard line with just over two minutes remaining.
Kickoff coverage gives up a 44-yard return and are fortunate to drag down William Powell.
Following an Arizona turnover Matt Prater connects from 43 yards and the Broncos take the lead 13-10. That's a good kick for Prater who is always great outside 50 yards but not as consistent in the 40-49 range.
Matt Prater hits a 19-yard field goal to tie the game 10-10.
The Broncos put Tony Carter back to return a punt but he waves it off and lets it roll to the five-yard line. The Broncos are still searching for returners.
Omar Bolden takes a kickoff 102 yards for a Denver touchdown after an Arizona field goal, Bolden has been chomping at the bit for an opportunity to return a kick and he made the most of his chance. Bolden split the wedge and broke down the right sideline and outran everyone to the endzone.
Colquitt's punt goes 37 yards this time to the Arizona 11 where it is returned for seven yards.
Matt Willis makes a seven-yard return and once again makes it clear that he has no desire to return kicks.
Good punt by Colquitt lands at the Cardinal three-yard line but the cover team can't run it down and it bounces into the end zone. That will hurt the net average.
Jim Leonhard takes a 54-yard Dave Zastudil punt and returns it for a quick 17 yards.
Colquitt hits a 42-yard punt this time. He is without a doubt the most consistent Broncos player tonight.
Omar Bolden is trying to make a play on the opening kickoff and takes a kickoff from about seven-yards deep in the end zone out to the 14. Probably should have just taken a knee there but he wants to impress the coaches.
Britton Colquitt continues his solid preseason with a 43-yard punt.
Another good punt by Colquitt for 45 yards and rookie linebacker Steven Jackson makes a nice tackle after just a one-yard return.
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OVERALL GAME GRADE: C+
It's kind of hard to blame the coaching staff too much for some of the sloppy play tonight. They are trying to see as many players as possible. I still do not understand why quarterback Adam Weber doesn't get more snaps and why Caleb Hanie starts.
But the coaching staff accomplished its overall goals tonight. The were able to evaluate numerous players, they got a win and the team stayed healthy.
With three minutes remaining and up 13-10 John Fox elects to go with three straight running plays, and the Broncos will have to give the ball back to Arizona.
The Bronco offense drove 94 yards to the Arizona 1-yard line. Fox sent in Prater for the 19-yard field goal. It's preseason, do you need to practice that 19-yarder? And if this game goes into overtime I will never forgive John Fox.
Both sides of the ball have had a little more fire after the half. A lot of players are getting playing time.
Nothing much here. Both sides of the ball are playing deep in to the depth chart. The offense is unable to put together anything resembling a drive. Bad end to the half when Hanie is sacked and time runs out. The defense has been playing hard if not always well.
A lot of veterans are getting the night off and understandably so. The coaching staff has a substantial amount of players to watch tonight.