Siemian nearly rallied Broncos at Tennessee
They are all in now with the first-year starting QB
nashville, tenn.» His jersey hanging half-off, shoulder pad exposed, limping, shrugging, barely held together. Trevor Siemian looked like a rag doll in the third quarter here Sunday. This is the quarterback the Broncos are pinning their playoff hopes on.
In a game the Broncos said was “now-ornever,” before three more that qualify in the same way, Siemian brought the Broncos back to life in the fourth quarter. The firstyear starter flung a flat-lined offense on his back and rallied them late before finally falling 13-10 to Tennessee.
“He did everything he could possibly do,” Denver coach Gary Kubiak said. “We just didn’t do enough.”
If the Broncos, currently holding the No. 6 and final spot in the AFC playoff field, sneak into the postseason after three more games — against New England, at Kansas City and Oakland, the toughest remaining schedule in the league — it will be Siemian carrying them on a sprained left foot and an aching left shoulder.
Denver’s run defense is dead. Between Devontae Booker and newly signed Justin Forsett, the Broncos ran nine times against the Titans for 18 yards. That is the third-lowest single-game rushing total in the Broncos’ 57 seasons as a franchise. They last ran for as few as 18 yards in 2013 against San Diego.
That left everything up to Siemian. The 24-year-old threw for 334 yards, a careerhigh total in a four-quarter game. Two weeks ago he threw for 340 yards in an overtime loss to Kansas City. He outdueled Marcus Mariota, the much-hyped Titans quarterback who threw for 88 yards and completed all of six passes.
“I think we have the right group to do it,” Siemian said of Denver’s playoff chances. “It’s going to be an awesome challenge.”
The real challenge is finding much hope in the Broncos’ offense. They were once again gruesome in the first half, running one play in Tennessee territory. The Titans ran 24 plays in Denver territory in that span.
It was a minor miracle Denver trailed just 13-0 at halftime. After Tennessee free safety Kevin Byard leaped into his chest on a uncontested blitz, Siemian looked shot, limping around with a sprained foot and a shoulder that was dislocated earlier this season.
Kubiak all but abandoned the run game in the second half, instead asking Siemian to toss his team to victory. It almost happened, thanks to the play of wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Siemian’s 3-yard pass to Sanders in the fourth quarter put the Broncos on the board for the first time, completing a 26-yard drive, a short field set up by an excellent punt return and a roughing penalty.
Then Siemian led an 11-play drive that should have given the Broncos a lead. But Bennie Fowler dropped Siemian’s pass at the goal line and the Broncos settled for a Brandon McManus field goal. Denver’s final drive ended when tight end A.J. Derby fumbled with 1:04 left.
“They couldn’t really stop us,” Thomas said. He finished with 10 catches for 126 yards. Sanders caught a game-high 11 passes for 100 yards. Through 11 games as the Broncos quarterback, Siemian is averaging 248.2 yards passing per game.
“He’s a tough, resilient player,” Forsett said of Siemian. “He played his heart out.”
“He did everything he could possibly do. We just didn’t do enough.”
Gary Kubiak, Broncos coach, on quarterback Trevor Siemian’s play Sunday against the Titans
Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian is forced out of the pocket during the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Siemian completed 35-of-51 passes for 334 yards and a touchdown.