ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Before the Broncos could take a well-earned weekend rest, they went through their typical Monday day-after-game meetings and film study at the UCHealth Training Center in the wake of their 21-20 win over the Carolina Panthers.
"I couldn't believe we won the game, with some of the things that we did -- some of the mistakes that we made," Kubiak said. "That's a credit to them [the players].
"But for me, I really look at it as, I'm excited because of all I think we can be if we correct those things. And we'll go to work on correcting those things right now."
- SIEMIAN'S DEBUT: "A NICE FIRST STEP"**
Trevor Siemian's stat line -- 18-of-26 passing for 176 yards with two interceptions, one touchdown pass and a 69.1 rating -- doesn't tell the story. It doesn't reflect the two times he scampered out of trouble and ran for a first down, or that he guided the team to at least three first downs on six of their nine non-kneeldown series while averaging 36.0 net yards on those drives.
"I think we had nine possessions, and Trevor put us in position to score points six times," Kubiak said. "And that's a hell of a defense that we played."
But just as important was how Siemian managed the team. He kept the offense calm and focused, reminding them that their wounds were self-inflicted. And his game management was what you'd expect from a veteran.
"We didn't have to waste a timeout. We didn't get a call wrong. He handled the operation really [well]," Kubiak said. "The guys were confident in him handling the huddle and also doing it from 10 points down against a group like that.
"I think his poise, it was a big step in the right direction. We've got a lot of things to clean up, but I think it was a nice first step."
Siemian's first step involved a screen pass to Demaryius Thomas that picked up 11 yards and got his regular-season career off to a good start.
"They do some things defensively where you'd better get rid of the ball quick, so we tried to start the game getting rid of the ball quick, doing some things," Kubiak said. "We tried the boot[leg] one time, and they were holding up for our boots, which helped us run the ball."
- "ENCOURAGED" BY THE O-LINE**
One of the Broncos' best pass plays was the 25-yard screen pass to C.J. Anderson that narrowed the deficit to 17-14. Anderson galloped to the end zone because he had the entire interior line as his escorts, with center Matt Paradis and guards Michael Schofield and Max Garcia out in front.
Being in the right place and delivering effective play was typical for the offensive line against one of the game's best defensive lines.
"I told them today, 'I'm encouraged at what we can be,'" Kubiak said. "I was very encouraged by our tackle play."
Siemian was sacked twice and hit once more. His rate of one sack every 14 pass plays was worse than the 2015 league rate of one sack every 16.4 pass plays, and close to the rate of one sack every 15.8 pass plays racked up by the Panthers last year.
Schofield in particular looked comfortable making his first start at right guard, and Kubiak said the third-year lineman "played well."
But Paradis was perhaps the star of the group, adeptly handling the myriad looks the Panthers showed, which included aligning All-Pro linebackers Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly over the A-gaps.
"Matt ran the group. We faced a lot of fronts, a lot of different looks, and Matt really handled the group really well," Kubiak said.
- KUBIAK WILL SUBMIT THE ILLEGAL-HANDS-TO-THE-FACE CALL TO THE LEAGUE**
The Panthers wouldn't have had the opportunity for a game-tying field-goal attempt if Chris Harris Jr. had not been whistled for illegal hands to the face against Carolina WR Kelvin Benjamin on fourth-and-21 just after the two-minute warning.
But Benjamin appeared to have his hand up at Harris' face mask concurrent with the contact Harris made.
"It felt like he pushed my arm up. But I never grabbed it, though," Harris said. "I never grabbed his face mask. It was just like, he pushed my arm up, and then, bam. It was quick. I don't remember even touching his face mask. But that's what he called."
After watching the film, Kubiak said he planned to submit the call to the NFL for review.
"I think the league got it wrong. But we'll turn it in. We'll see," Kubiak said. "I thought it should have been called the other way, but we'll see what they say."
Understandably, the Broncos' locker room wasn't happy about the call.
"I don't know. A call like that, I think a tick-tack call in a game-deciding play, personally, you're supposed to let that go, but he didn't. I don't think Chris took his face mask. Chris said he didn't. I feel like that's when the refs are overstepping their bounds. They're trying to make a game instead of call one."
- MARSHALL, KUBIAK HAD A DISCUSSION FRIDAY MORNING**
In the wake of his decision to take a knee during the national anthem Thursday, ILB Brandon Marshall met with Kubiak for what the head coach called "a good talk" Friday morning.
"Like I told you guys last night, he's a great kid. He's accountable. He always does his job. And Brandon has the right to his beliefs and stuff, and I'm going to keep us focused on the football."
As was the case Thursday night, a crowd blossomed around Marshall's locker for further comments. He answered every question thoughtfully, adding that he hoped other players around the NFL would join him if they so desired.
"Absolutely," he said. "More than that, I just want people to stand up for what they believe in, stand up for what they feel is right. This is what I feel is right. I'm hoping that other players will take a stand as well -- but not just take a stand, but actually actively do something in the community."
- PLENTY OF ROTATION ON THE DEFENSE**
No Broncos defensive player played every snap Thursday, as 20 players divided the work.
Harris played the most snaps (69, 95 percent), followed by Ward (65, 88 percent), Marshall (61, 84 percent) and cornerback Aqib Talib (60, 82 percent). OLB Dekoda Watson, safety Will Parks and ILB Zaire Anderson were the only defensive players to see no snaps on defensive snaps, but they combined for 42 special-teams repetitions.
DE Jared Crick saw 55 snaps (75 percent), the most of any defensive lineman. Rookie safety Justin Simmons played 29 snaps, working as a sixth defensive back in the Broncos' nickel alignment/dime personnel sub package.
OLB DeMarcus Ware, who started but is on a play count, played 32 snaps (44 percent).
Six offensive players played every snap: the starting offensive line and Siemian.
Take a look at the best photos from our team photographers from Thursday's victory over the Panthers. (photos by Gabriel Christus unless noted)