Despite a 57-yard touchdown pass and then a forced fumble on defense, the Broncos were overtaken by the Cardinals. (Photos by Eric Bakke unless noted)
1. Lynch finds Taylor for explosive start
With 12:29 to go in the first quarter, Paxton Lynch found a positive result on his first throw of the game. Lynch found wide receiver Jordan Taylor on a short curl, and then Taylor turned routine into spectacular. He broke a tackle attempt from Cardinals corner Cariel Brooks, weaved his way past another defender and went 57 yards* *to pay dirt. Taylor would tack on __ the rest of the evening, but this was undoubtedly the highlight of his night. Just as he began training camp with a spectacular catch, he ended the preseason with another huge play.
2. Norman makes presence felt
After the Cardinals picked up a first down, the Broncos defense went to work. Nose tackle Darius Kilgo blew up Cardinals running back Kerwynn Williams' attempt at a chip block, which gave linebacker Dwayne Norman room to work. Norman pulled the ball away from Arizona quarterback Matt Barkley, and Zaire Anderson came up with the recovery at the Arizona 29-yard line. Anderson is no stranger to big plays this preseason. He forced two fumbles against San Francisco and recovered a loose ball for a touchdown off a blocked punt against Chicago. On Saturday night, Anderson's recovery of the Barkley fumble set up a 33-yard Brandon McManus field goal that put the Broncos up 10-0 with 9:41 to go in the first quarter.
3. Tidwell does best "No Fly Zone" impersonation
On 3rd-and-3 at the Broncos' 45-yard line with the Cardinals threatening to pad their lead, cornerback John Tidwell forced Arizona's offense off the field. Barkley looked deep to rookie wide receiver Chris Hubert, but Tidwell was in perfect position to knock the ball away. The pass breakup helped stall a Cardinals drive that began at the Arizona 14-yard line and looked like it might have resulted in more points for the Cardinals. On the next drive, the Broncos would show how valuable that stop would be to their chances.
4. Lynch guides offense on quick jaunt down field
With the Broncos backed up against the doorstep of their own end zone in the third quarter, Lynch made a series of plays to get Denver within range of Arizona. On second down from their own 7-yard line, Lynch found tight end John Phillips for a 20-yard gain out to the 27-yard line. Then, after Lynch scrambled for five yards, he found Mose Frazier for back-to-back gains of 14 yards and 18 yards, respectively. Lynch wouldn't stop there. He found Taylor on a slant-and-go for 32 yards to get down to the Cardinals' 4-yard line. In all, the Broncos moved from their own 7-yard line to the Cardinals' 4-yard line in just five plays. The quick race down the field led to Lynch scrambling to his right and tossing a 3-yard touchdown to Jordan Taylor to pull the Broncos within 23-17 with 51 seconds to go in the third quarter.
5. Raymond's KR gives Broncos chance to close gap
After the Cardinals scored a touchdown to go up 38-17 with 5:36 to go in the fourth quarter, the Broncos were in need of a big play. Rookie Kalif Raymond provided that spark in the form of a 41-yard kick return. Raymond shot through a tight opening near the goal line, made a few players miss and took off toward the left sideline. He nearly took the kick the distance, but Cardinals cornerback Ronald Zamort made his way to Raymond at the sideline and forced him out of bounds. The Broncos wound up with some of their best starting field position of the night after the return.
The Broncos have other promotions here, in addition to following promotion available the day after the game:
- McDonald's is offering fans in Colorado one-dollar Big Mac sandwiches or one-dollar sausage egg McMuffins on Monday and 30 percent off any jersey in the Broncos team store the day.