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While playing imperfect football, Case Keenum and the Broncos' starting offense found ways to score points

DENVER — Case Keenum and Broncos’ offense weren’t perfect on Saturday night against the Bears.

They still managed to move the ball and score points — even after a less-than-ideal start.

On the Broncos’ first drive, the starting offense faltered and exited the field with its third consecutive three-and-out of the preseason.

Keenum managed to help the offense move the ball to Chicago’s 8-yard line on the team’s next drive, but an offensive pass interference call prevented the Broncos from scoring a touchdown.

Neither of those setbacks previewed the offense’s final output.

“First drive, I definitely want that third-down ball back,” Keenum said after the game. “There’s probably three or four balls I want back. Man, I thought for not being perfect, I thought we moved the ball, converted third downs and scored points. I think that says something in this league.

“When things aren’t going just exactly the way you want to, still being able to put drives together and score some points — I think it’s important.”

That’s just what Keenum and the Broncos did.

Keenum managed to get back 10 yards on a third-and-goal from the Bears’ 18-yard line, which set up an easy field goal for Brandon McManus.

The Broncos’ starting quarterback then helped answer a Bears scoring drive with a touchdown drive of his own.

Wide receiver Courtland Sutton drew a 45-yard pass interference call that helped the cause, and Royce Freeman punched the ball in from 4 yards out on the next play.

After completing a two-point conversion pass to Jeff Heuerman, Keenum jogged off the field as he pumped his fist.

“It felt like football again at that point,” Keenum said. “It felt like how we’ve been performing and making plays in practice. So it was good to have that come out on that field, and it felt good to put the ball in the end zone.”

Head Coach Vance Joseph and Keenum recognized the same shortcomings, but Joseph said he was pleased to see Keenum and the offense make strides between the first and second preseason games.

“It’s preseason, so you want to see progress every week,” Joseph said. “Obviously next week we want to see more progress. That’s what [the preseason is] for. I was pleased from that standpoint.”

Keenum’s play spurred much of that progress.

After starting 0-for-2, Keenum completed five of his next seven passes for 49 yards. On the Broncos’ touchdown drive, Keenum hit his first three passes to move the ball from his own 18-yard line to the Denver 47.

The aforementioned deep ball to Sutton pushed the Broncos down to Chicago’s 4-yard line, and the Broncos capped off the drive with a score.

“I think overall, the offense looked better,” Joseph said. “He missed a couple passes high. He didn’t feel good about that. As far as the operation and moving the ball and putting together some good plays, it looked pretty good for me tonight.”

The Broncos were able to score — and build a lead — while playing imperfect football on Saturday.

That doesn’t mean Keenum, who finished 8-of-13 for 78 yards and a 78.4 quarterback rating, will accept it.

“I mean for me, I always want to be better,” Keenum said. “I’m probably going to say that Week 1, Week 17, into the playoffs. There’s always going to be more out there for me. I think that’s just my mindset. I know that’s [my teammates'] mindset, too. We’ll learn from it and grow.

“It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being excellent. It’s just about trusting the process of coming in every day, working hard and pursuing excellence.”

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