NASHVILLE —** Two weeks after suffering a foot injury, Trevor Siemian didn't miss a step in his return to the field.
With career highs in passing attempts (51) and completions (35), Siemian did his best to try to lead the offense to a comeback victory over Tennessee, but early struggles and a fumble on the final drive ended the team's hopes as Denver fell 13-10 at Nissan Stadium.
The Broncos surged back in the second half but dropped a 13-10 decision in Nashville to the Tennessee Titans. (Photos by Eric Bakke, unless noted)
"Yeah, I think [it was] just a poor start, really poor start," Siemian said. "And then, shoot, at the end you have a chance to win it. You can't ask to be in better position after the way the first half went. So, we had our chances down the stretch and we didn't make the plays. But the start sure as heck didn't help us."
The offense's struggles in the first half were numerous. It failed to convert each of its four third-down attempts — including two third-and-1s — suffered two fumbles, had 12 net rushing yards and was on the field for half as much time as Tennessee's offense. But the defense held Tennessee to just 13 points, and the offense knew it had a shot in the second half.
From there, Siemian went to work. The offense earned three trips to the red zone behind Siemian's 22-of-33 second-half passing for 221 yards, but two of the trips stalled as Tennessee's defense tightened up, resulting in one turnover on downs and one field goal. The missed opportunities proved costly.
"A lot of credit to them mixing things up each time we were down there," Siemian said. "They brought pressure, they dropped out — they did everything. They kept us kind of off balance. A lot of credit to them, but we definitely had our chances to make plays. I know I did. … [I've] got to go back and watch the tape, but we had our chances to win it."
Siemian, who threw for 334 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, earned the praise of his head coach for his play in spite of the foot injury that sidelined him in Week 13 against Jacksonville.
"It's tough in this league," Gary Kubiak said. "You've got to battle through things. He battled for us and played and gave it up for his teammates. We had some opportunities to make some plays there at the end that he'll be the first one to tell you, you make a couple of those plays, too, and it would help us out. But he battled through, did everything he could possibly do and we just didn't do enough."
In spite of the loss, however, Siemian said he remains confident that the team has the makeup to fight its way to the playoffs as a tough slate looms in the final three weeks of the regular season.
"I think we've got the right group to do it with," he said. "It's going to be an awesome challenge. I know I'm looking forward to it. Obviously it starts one game at a time with New England coming in. But I think we've got the right guys in that locker room for it, so we're going to give it our best shot and see how we stack up."