DENVER – Trevor Siemian directed the Broncos on a 67-yard touchdown drive, helped push Denver to a 10-9 halftime lead and managed an offense that fared well against one of the NFL's best front-sevens.
Not bad for a second career start, but Siemian still had plenty of critiques for himself after Denver's 17-9 win on Saturday night over the Los Angeles Rams.
"I thought we did well as a group," Siemian said. "Some good and some bad. Obviously there's some things to build on and then go back and watch it and clean up some things."
In the first few minutes of Saturday's game, Siemian didn't see much action. The Broncos ran the ball six straight times on its opening two possessions as they looked to wear down Los Angeles' defense. It wasn't until the third drive when Siemian finally had a chance to air it out.
"That's just kind of how it worked out," Siemian said. "Me, selfishly, as a quarterback, I would've liked to throw it 25 times in the first half, but that's just how it worked out. I think we put together a couple drives there in the second quarter."
He threw the ball to varying results. Rams' defensive back Cody Davis made a spectacular play to come away with an interception near Los Angeles' goal line, but Siemian fought back with strong passes to both Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.
With less than a minute to go in the first half, Siemian uncorked a deep pass down the right sideline to Thomas, who made an outstanding one-handed grab.
"Yeah, it was good," Siemian said. "A heck of a catch and [pass interference], too. But I mean him and Emmanuel both do such good jobs. I've just got to get those guys the ball and let them get going a bit."
In all, Siemian said he felt his 10-for-17 night for 122 yards and a touchdown would be enough to make him the starter on opening night against Carolina.
"I feel confident," Siemian said. "I mean ultimately that's up to [Head Coach Gary Kubiak]. It's a better question for him, you know. But we'll see what happens and try to just be the best teammate I can be."
For rookie Paxton Lynch, who played the entirety of the second half, another game meant another step closer to complete comfort in Head Coach Gary Kubiak's offense.
"Well first, I just feel more comfortable," Lynch said. "I've [gotten] a chance to see a couple defenses now so I'm not so surprised by what's going on. We came out here tonight, we moved the ball a little bit. Wish we could've scored a couple more touchdowns, but overall, we won the game and played good as a team."
Lynch said he didn't find out he would start the second half until the intermission. When the coaches delivered the news, he immediately saw the value of the opportunity. None of Lynch's 33 snaps came against the Rams' first-team defense, but he made the most of his reps and led the Broncos on a 41-yard touchdown drive.
"Like I said the whole time," Lynch said, "I'm taking the reps as I get them no matter who it's against and you've got to play like you're playing against the ones every time."
Kubiak has yet to announce a starting quarterback for the Broncos' opener on Sept. 8, but Lynch thinks he'd be ready to go if Kubiak calls his number.
"Obviously I think I could play," Lynch said. "I don't think I'm where I'm gonna be later on down the road when I have a full grasp of the offense and understand it well, but if I needed to play, I'm gonna do what I need to do for the team to keep us rolling."
The two younger quarterbacks on the roster took plenty of snaps, which helped Kubiak gather as much information as possible so that he can make a decision. Kubiak's plan meant that veteran Mark Sanchez did not take snaps on Saturday night.
"I obviously thought about it all week long," Kubiak said. "I sat down with Mark this morning before breakfast and I told him. I said, 'Mark, I'm going to play Paxton second and if things go the way I think, if Trevor plays as long as I think he's going to play, I'm not going to put you in there with four, five minutes left in the game.'
"Bottom line, I have a lot to go off of on Mark. He's played a lot of football. I needed to see these two other kids play again. That was a decision I made and I talked to Mark about it this morning. I explained it to him. He was great. We went from there."
Kubiak said in the days leading up to the game against the Rams that he hoped to make a decision after Saturday's game. Regardless of the result, the months-long quarterback battle seems to be headed toward a resolution. As it wraps up, Siemian seemed pleased with the way the room stayed together during an uncertain time.
"I've had a blast, honestly," Siemian said. "It's a credit to [Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator] Coach [Greg] Knapp and Mark and Paxton. I think we've got a really great room. We've pushed each other. It's been super competitive, but I think everybody's been good for each other and those are great guys. I can't say enough about them."