CINCINNATI --It's pick your poison with the Broncos' top receivers.
Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders believe they're the best wide receiver duo in the NFL, and they added to their case Sunday in the Broncos' 29-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
After voicing a desire to be more involved in the offense earlier this week, the two wide receivers racked up a combined 15 receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns.
"We want to get them the ball every week," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "The Bengals are a tough team to throw the ball against. … We needed to throw the ball to get some points, and those two kids played really well. I'm proud of those two."
The offense had been defined by the running game through the first two games of the season and entering Sunday, it looked as if that would continue. The Bengals allowed a league-worst 138 rushing yards per game, and the Broncos were fourth in the league in rushing yards. However, Cincinnati game-planned to stop those trends, and Denver, with an offensive line battling injuries, was forced to win the game in the air.
"I don't know why they played us that way, honestly," Sanders said. "The run game wasn't there and I was just excited that in the pass game we had a lot of opportunities."
"We weren't able to run the ball, but we were able to throw," Thomas added. "We've always had that one-two punch so when they stop the run, we throw the ball. When they try to stop the pass, we run it. If we can stay balanced, that's going to make us a better team. It's going to make us a better offense."
At the beginning of the game, it looked as if Sanders was going to have a career afternoon. He connected with Siemian early on a 41-yard touchdown pass off a double-move to give the Broncos the lead after Cincinnati opened up the game with a convincing touchdown drive powered by running back Jeremy Hill.
On this reception, Sanders tied the thunder (Thomas) to his lightning in becoming the fifth player in the NFL to have five or more touchdown receptions of over 40 yards since 2014.
"We game-planned all week on the double move. In the first 15 plays, we had three or four double moves," Sanders said. "We knew we were going to take our shots. … Those double moves paid off."
Sanders followed it up with a 7-yard touchdown reception right before halftime to regain the lead as the Broncos headed into the locker room.
His counterpart didn't see as many looks in the first half, and began the second half with a fumble. However, he made up for this mistake with a 55-yard touchdown with 4:23 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"I had actually caught a ball at the beginning of the third quarter and they called it a fumble. I still had that in my head so I had to make a play for my team, for my offense, to put us in a great position," Thomas said. "When I saw that it was one-on-one, Trevor gave me a chance. I just took advantage of it. I made a play."
When it came down to it, the Broncos relied on the passing game to spark their second fourth-quarter comeback. In quarterback Trevor Siemian's first start on the road, this performance by his top two targets aided him tremendously.
"It's huge. I'm leaning on those guys a lot, and not just throwing the football, but leadership. They've been great," Siemian said. "I'm really glad to have those two on my side."