It certainly wasn’t always pretty, but Trevor Siemian earned his first career win and scored his first career touchdown in his debut as a starting NFL quarterback as his Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers 21-20.
Siemian looked comfortable and confident starting the game, leading the Broncos into Carolina territory and spreading the ball to three separate receivers on the first drive alone. But rookie running back Devontae Booker fumbled his first career carry, ending the threat.
After a Carolina touchdown, Siemian came out and again led a lengthy drive, but threw an interception on an attempted screen. Defensive lineman Kony Ealy made an intelligent play to bat the ball up in the air, and linebacker Thomas Davis came down with the ball.
But Siemian found a groove on the next drive, and the Broncos put up their first touchdown of the season on a 28-yard score from fullback Andy Janovich.
Siemian would throw his second interception on the opening drive of the second half, trying to float the ball to Sanders but not quite putting enough on it. Bene Benwikere came up with the athletic play.
After that, though, Siemian settled in and started to play some solid football, as did his defense. He led an eight—play, 78-yard drive which concluded in his first career touchdown, a screen to CJ Anderson. Siemian did a good job of waiting for the play to develop and floating a pass to his running back at the last second. Anderson did the rest.
With that, the tide turned. Denver’s Chris Harris Jr. came up with a fantastic interception on the Panthers’ next drive, and Anderson punched it in after a 10-play drive (which included a clever 3rd-and-1 scramble from Siemian) from the one yardline, putting Denver on top 21-17.
From there it was a nerve-racking finish after Graham Gano banged through a field goal with 4:25 to go to make it 21-20 and the Broncos proceeded to go three and out.
The Panthers had one final chance to win the game, needing just a field goal, and converted on a 4th-and-20 via a hands to the face penalty on Harris Jr. A few plays later, Cam Newton got the Panthers to the brink of victory after a completion to Ted Ginn Jr. But kicker Graham Gano missed a 50-yarder wide left with just seconds remaining.
Siemian kneeled out from there. (He’s good at that.)
Siemian finished 18 for 26 with 178 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He added 20 yards on the ground.
And most importantly, one win.