DENVER — Every play has a story, Case Keenum says, and though there were a few he wished hadn’t been told in Sunday’s 27-24 win vs. Seattle, he couldn’t help but remain optimistic about where he and the rest of the team can go from here.
With 329 yards and three touchdowns, Keenum tasted the potential of the offense — explosive plays, the ability to consistently move the chains and resiliency to battle throughout game.
But with three interceptions, he also felt frustration — the frustration of missing a few reads and the frustration with some drives ending short of their scoring potential.
Yet, ever the optimist, Keenum sees that this game as a harbinger of greater things to come.
“I’m really excited about how good this football team can be,” Keenum said. “[If] we take care of the ball — I take care of the ball; those are all on me — we’re going to be really hard to beat.”
Those turnovers could have derailed Sunday’s game, but combined with some stingy defense, Keenum was able to rebound when needed. After the first interception, he immediately led a 75-yard drive that he finished with a 29-yard touchdown pass to running back Phillip Lindsay.
Then, after the offense struggled to just three third-quarter points and the Seahawks regained the lead on the second play of the fourth quarter, Keenum responded with another 75-yard drive that ended with a touchdown.
But prior to that point, momentum seemed to be slipping away. With a less-experienced quarterback under center, the Broncos might have faltered and been unable to retake control of the game.
Instead, Keenum found rookie receiver Courtland Sutton for 25 yards, tight end Jake Butt for 22 and Demaryius Thomas for a 4-yard touchdown, marching the Broncos down the field for the go-ahead score that would win the game.
“It’s playing the next play,” Keenum said. “The game is still in our hands. We’re up, then they went and scored the touchdown. We’ve got to go make a play. You’ve got to forget about everything that you’ve done and play the next play. It was a big-time drive when we needed it the most, so I was really proud of my guys. They made some great plays.”
Keenum’s leadership, along with that of other veterans on offense like Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Matt Paradis, ensured that the Broncos could move on from mistakes from previous drives and recapture the success that they had found earlier in the game through the air and on the ground.
“I think us as a group, we know how well Case handles those types of situations,” rookie receiver Courtland Sutton said. “He knows that we’ve got to move on to the next play and that we can’t dwell on that, because if we dwell on it, that’s when you ultimately start seeing more mistakes happen. Case was very calm, and he kept us calm. We all knew that he was going to rebound and we were going to go out there and be able to make plays.”
With that kind of comfort and confidence, Keenum’s ability to lead the offense is invaluable. But he made sure to point out that he’ll have to learn from the mistakes he made and avoid repeating them for the team to succeed.
“That’s 17 points I’m responsible for,” he said. “I know that. I realize that. It’s something I’m going to fix and that I’m going to be better at.
“But I’m excited because we’re going to be a really good football team. We are a really good football team.”
Game action photos from Broncos team photographers during Denver's season opener against the Seahawks.