The Broncos got out to a 14-7 lead, capitalizing on two Aqib Talib interceptions in the first half. Then, late in the second quarter, starting quarterback Trevor Siemian was sacked and swung to the ground by Bucs DT Clinton McDonald, landing hard on his left (non-throwing) shoulder.
Siemian was carted off the field and rookie first-rounder Paxton Lynch took over. From there, it was all Broncos.
Lynch led the Broncos on three scoring drives, including his first touchdown pass as a pro to Emmanuel Sanders — a five-yard strike in the fourth quarter. Taking over for Siemian, Lynch didn't exactly set the world on fire, but he showcased his impressive combination of talents — size, strength, speed, athleticism, arm-strength and elusiveness.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1681565-5-reasons-you-should-go-p... Lynch would finish the game 14-of-24 for 170 yards and touchdown, with a passer rating of 94.1. The Broncos offense didn't miss a beat with the rookie under center. In fact, you could argue that they took a step forward.
Siemian could have returned to the field if needed. Austin Davis was inactive. But Lynch kept the Broncos moving and did not turn the ball over.
With how good Lynch looked — he didn't receive starter's reps all week as the No. 2 QB — Gary Kubiak and company have a real QB controversy brewing.
On one hand, you have Siemian who has led the Broncos to a 4-0 start (he gets credit for Week 4's win). He's passed for 756 yards (67 percent completion percentage), six touchdowns and three interceptions. He entered Week 4 as the NFL's leader in fourth quarter QB rating.
No matter which way you cut it, Siemian has exceeded expectations and has played remarkably well.
On the other hand, we all know that Paxton Lynch is the future for the Broncos. Today's performance begs the question — is the future now?
Lynch's performance on Sunday cannot be ignored, and you can believe that Kubiak and company have taken heed. There's simply so much more the Broncos can do offensively with Lynch.
The rushing offense took off with Lynch at the helm. Downfield passing. Simply a more explosive performance collectively.
Lynch consistently made good decisions on Sunday. Kubiak did not dumb down the offense for the rookie and Lynch proved himself to be more than capable of carrying the load.
On six offensive drives, not counting the final kneel-down, Lynch led his unit to three scores and 13 points. The possession before the kneel-down, the Broncos were running the ball, trying to kill the clock. Were it not for some initial struggles in the redzone, it could have been 21 points for Lynch's squad.
Depending on the severity of Siemian's injury, the Broncos might not be forced into a decision this coming week. But on the surface, if Siemian could have returned on Sunday, then he's probably going to be good to go next week at home vs. the Atlanta Falcons.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1712684-should-the-broncos-bench-... Needless to say, it'll be interesting to see what Kubiak decides.
Against the Bucs, the Denver defense dominated Jameis Winston and the Tampa offense. They gave up a 75-yard touchdown drive early in the first quarter, but from there, were able to shut Tampa down.
The officials shut the game down for more than an hour, due to severe weather. The delay was unusually long, and when the players returned, the field was a muddy mess.
Going against a young gunslinger, with a penchant for turning the ball over, you expect an elite defense like Denver's to exploit him. The Broncos did just that, taking the ball away three times.
The pass rush chipped away at Winston, netting the Broncos six sacks, led by Derek Wolfe's 2.5. Wolfe has at least a half sack in 11 of the last 14 games. Today was the first two-plus-sack performance of his career.
Fortunately, the questions the Broncos face at quarterback aren't bad ones. Both young signal-allers have acquitted themselves well in their respective opportunities.
Against a high-powered Atlanta offense, the Broncos will face a stiff test next week. To win, the Broncos will have to score some points on offense.
Who gives the Broncos the best chance to do that? Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch? We'll know where the coaches come down on that question soon enough.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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