DENVER — The Broncos' next game at Empower Field at Mile High comes Sept. 10 in their season opener against the Las Vegas Raiders.
They would certainly take a performance like the one they turned in Saturday night in a 41-0 win over the Los Angeles Rams.
In their lone preseason home game, the Broncos maintained control from start to finish and demonstrated significant progress from their previous losses. Denver dominated the trenches and generated big plays on both sides of the ball early on, including 50- and 49-yard completions by quarterback Jarrett Stidham and interceptions from cornerback Essang Bassey and inside linebacker Drew Sanders. By halftime, the Broncos held a 27-0 lead and a 325-51 advantage in net yards.
"The biggest thing is the win," Bassey said. "We put out a shutout on defense. We wanted to dominate, and that's what we came out and did."
Stidham, the Broncos' starting quarterback for the preseason finale, led Denver on five consecutive scoring drives to open the contest and recorded his strongest performance of the preseason. He completed 17 of his 28 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown, while punishing the Rams with a 50-yard rocket to wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr. and a 49-yarder to wide receiver Brandon Johnson.
"The main thing is improving week to week," Stidham said. "That was my personal goal, just keep improving, just do the offense the way it's supposed to be done and move the ball. I feel like each week it got better for us as an offense."
Quarterback Ben DiNucci played the second half for the Broncos and led the team to another 14 points, including a fourth-down touchdown pass in the final minutes. The Broncos finished five-of-six in red-zone chances and were a perfect five-of-five in goal-to-go situations.
Defensively, the Broncos held Los Angeles to a single third-down conversion in 10 attempts and did not allow a point on all nine of the Rams' possessions. The Broncos were also plus-two in the turnover margin, thanks to Bassey's and Sanders' interceptions.
Payton highlighted Denver's physicality and dominance in the trenches as major reasons behind the convincing win.
"Look, I thought up front we played well defensively and offensively, and when you play that way in the trenches, you're going to have games with success," Payton said. "Third-down numbers were good on offense, they were good on defense, all of those things. I thought we were physical tonight, and even in the kicking game, if you watched the coverage units and the return units, we did a lot of things well."
Just two weeks away from their Week 1 matchup at home against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Broncos are looking to translate the big-play ability that was on full display against the Rams to the regular season.
Bassey, a preseason standout who recorded an interception in each of Denver's three preseason games, said the Broncos' preseason slate has given him the opportunity to prove his playmaking ability and find his rhythm.
"It feels really good to get in a groove, get in the habit of making plays," Bassey said. "They kind of come in bunches, at times, and that's what's been happening for me. [My goal is] just hopefully to carry the momentum from the preseason into [Week 1]."