EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Teddy Bridgewater era is off to successful start.
For the first time in nearly three years, the Broncos have a winning record after a 27-13 win over the New York Giants — and Bridgewater played a major role.
In his first start with the Broncos, Bridgewater completed 28-of-36 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns as Denver pieced together a series of long drives and overcame a first-half deficit to earn the win.
Bridgewater deftly navigated the offense to help the Broncos beat back the Giants and earn their first season-opening win since 2018.
After an offseason dominated by talk about the quarterback position, Bridgewater proved why he was the right choice.
Denver's defense — outside of allowing a second-quarter touchdown — looked the part as it held the Giants to just seven points and five-of-11 on third down prior to a final drive in garbage time.
The Broncos' victory, though, was partially marred by the loss of Jerry Jeudy. The second-year player suffered a lower-leg injury in the third quarter that required him to be carted off the field. According to a report, though, Jeudy did not fracture his ankle.
Denver was able to close out the win after the injury and head back to the Mile High City with a 1-0 record.
These were the plays and players that made the difference in the Broncos' win.
The Broncos earned a 13-point win, but the game hung in the balance late in the second quarter. A 37-yard Sterling Shepard touchdown had given New York the lead earlier in the quarter, and the Broncos blew their first chance to respond. After moving the ball into the red zone, second-year tight end Albert Okwuegbunam fumbled the ball inside the 5-yard line. Though the referee's decision to uphold the call seemed tenuous at best, the Broncos lost an opportunity to cut into the Giants' 7-3 lead. Despite holding the advantage in yardage and time of possession, Denver was in danger of trailing at halftime.
After a quick three-and-out by the Giants' offense, the Broncos responded. Head Coach Vic Fangio decided to leave the offense on the field on fourth-and-2 from the New York 49-yard line, and Bridgewater found Courtland Sutton for the conversion. He then found Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick in quick succession to move the ball to the 2-yard line as time wound down in the first half. Bridgewater then eluded a defender and found Patrick in the end zone to regain the lead before halftime.
With Fangio's bold decision and Bridgewater's timely passing, the Broncos flipped the trajectory of the game in just a few moments.
The Broncos were best when it mattered most, as they went for it three times on fourth down on Sunday and converted all three attempts. The first came on fourth-and-7 from the New York 37 to set up the opening field goal of the game. The Broncos converted their second fourth down on the final drive of the first half to set up the touchdown, and then Fangio pushed the envelope again on the Broncos' first drive of the third quarter. The Broncos went for it on fourth-and-1 from the 4-yard line and got the ball into the end zone to push the lead higher.
The Broncos were near the bottom of the league in third-down efficiency in 2020, and that led Fangio to avoid taking chances on fourth down. Denver's offense has shown it can handle big moments, though, and Fangio put his faith in the unit.
Bridgewater and Co. delivered, and it changed the game.
Bridgewatercertainly gets a nod here, as he completed 28-of-36 passes for two touchdowns. He was sacked two times, but he did not turn the ball over.
Noah Fant didn't get in the end zone, but he caught six passes for 62 yards.
Von Millerlooked good in his return, as he recorded a big tackle for loss early in the game to knock New York out of field-goal range. He later notched his first sack in more than 600 days and added a second late in the game on a third down with the Giants looking to score in the red zone.
Josey Jewellprevented a New York score in the third quarter, as he decked Daniel Jones to force a fumble. Malik Reed recovered the loose ball for Denver.
Melvin Gordon IIIput the finishing touches on the win with a 70-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Bridgewater's second touchdown of the game showed off his elusiveness, as he juked a defender in the backfield before tossing the ball out to Okwuegbunam. The Missouri product atoned for the earlier mistake, as he snuck into the end zone to give the Broncos a two-possession lead.
Bridgewater had another memorable play earlier in the game, as he shook off several tackles and flung the ball back across the field to KJ Hamler.