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Osweiler thrives in preseason finale


DALLAS- ** Brock Osweiler rarely gets the opportunity to start games under center. Thursday night, he took full advantage of his yearly opportunity to lead the Broncos and the team dominated the Cowboys, 27-3, in their preseason finale.

Osweiler finished the game 9-of-13 for 190 yards. While he took care of the ball and made key plays to keep drives alive, his progress since he joined the Broncos in 2012 was most obvious as the first half came to a close.

Starting at the Broncos' 22-yard line with 1:46 left in the half, Osweiler orchestrated a beautiful two-minute drill, tacking on a field goal as the half came to a close. Osweiler connected with Isaiah Burse twice on the drive, once on a 28-yard completion to midfield and a few plays later for a 14-yard gain on third down, releasing the ball as he was hit hard by two Cowboys.

While Osweiler was consistently under pressure on the drive and was sacked by Kenneth Boatright for a loss of six on first-and-10, he rallied on the following play and found Cameron Morrah for a diving catch down the middle. That play put the Broncos on the Dallas 2-yard line and set up a Brandon McManus field goal—increasing the Broncos' lead to 10-3. Finishing 3-for-5 on the drive, Osweiler marched the offense down the field and was able to stop the clock and send the Broncos to the locker room with a score.

Browse through photos from the Broncos' preseason game against the Cowboys.

"We always practice two-minute drives in practice," Osweiler said. "I've been fortunate now that I think that was my third one this preseason. I got one in San Francisco before the half. We got one last week that we were unsuccessful on and then we got one this week, so for a second unit to get three two minute drives in a preseason, I think that's huge. Guys stepped up, made big plays and we were fortunate to get points before the half."

Osweiler's eight scoring drives this preseason have averaged 6.0 plays and 57.5 yards.

In his last start, the fourth game of the 2013 preseason, he finished the game 7-of-11 for 108 yards. While the numbers are clear indicators of his progress, certain plays throughout the game against the Cowboys showed his finesse in the pocket and ability to thrive under pressure.

On third-and-6 during the Broncos' first drive, Osweiler connected with Jacob Tamme, one of his training camp go-to targets, for a 12-yard gain. The drive ended at the Dallas 35-yard line and resulted in a missed field goal.

The Broncos ended the first half with a bang and started it with a similarly excellent drive. When Osweiler found Cody Latimer on third-and-3 for a short pass, Latimer racked up 54 yards after the catch. A holding call against the Cowboys on the following play gave the Broncos a first down at the Dallas 7. A Kapri Bibbs run capped off the 81-yard touchdown drive.

Later in the second half, a holding penalty on the Broncos' Paul Cornick put the Broncos in a first-and-20 hole. But, despite his 6-foot-8 stature, Osweiler's used his speed for a 26-yard run, the longest run by any Broncos player this preseason. The next play, Bibbs' 9-yard touchdown run put the Broncos up 24-3.

Osweiler finished the preseason 29-of-49 (59.2%) for 423 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for an 84.0 passer rating. He said tonight's win was a true team effort.

"It all starts with the offensive line," Osweiler said. "I thought that second group played lights out. They gave me time to throw, they gave the backs plenty of holes to run through. Outside of them there was a lot of young perimeter players that stepped up. Isaiah Burse had a tremendous game. Cody Latimer made a big play, Bubba [Andre Caldwell] made a big play. So I think it was a great group effort tonight and it was definitely the way you want to finish your fourth preseason game."

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