The Denver Broncos rallied in the second half scoring 21 unanswered points after trailing 9-3 at halftime in Sunday’s win against the Arizona Cardinals. Brett Rypien, Latavius Murray, Marlon Mack, and Justin Simmons cemented the Broncos’ win with key performances.

Denver Broncos offensive line struggles in first half vs. JJ Watt and the Cardinals

Brett Rypien manned the Broncos’ offense under center with Russell Wilson getting another week to rest after suffering a concussion last Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. After scoring three touchdowns last week, Rypien and the Denver offense looked to get Jerry Jeudy involved in the offensive game plan, connecting with him on the first two plays of the game to move the chains.

Denver’s offense made it past the 50-yard line after Latavius Murray powered forward on third and short, leading to another conversion for the Broncos on third down. However, offensive guard Quinn Meinerz left the game at that point and went straight to the bench after being poked in the eye. A holding penalty against Tom Compton who replaced Meinerz backed Rypien and the Broncos’ offense up. Ultimately, Denver settled for a 52-yard field goal from Brandon McManus who nailed it, giving the Broncos an early 3-0 lead.

With Kyler Murray missing Sunday’s game for the Arizona Cardinals after tearing his ACL in Arizona’s loss to the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football, the Broncos’ defense had to contend against veteran backup Colt McCoy who had a wide variety of weapons at wide receiver.

Denver’s defense came out aggressive early on, forcing the Cardinals into a 3rd and 6 situation. With pressure mounting against McCoy, he attempted to find DeAndre Hopkins on an out-route but Justin Simmons was playing tight coverage, leading to a three-and-out.

The Broncos’ offense found themselves past the 50-yard line for the second consecutive drive of the game after rushes by Latavius Murray and Marlon Mack moved the chains for Denver’s offense. The Broncos’ offensive line suffered another hit on the injury side with offensive guard Dalton Risner leaving the field bracing his arm against his chest. With Risner exiting the game with an elbow injury, the Cardinals’ defense took advantage of Tom Compton at right guard and Luke Wattenberg at left guard, sacking Rypien twice and ending a promising drive with a punt.

McCoy and the Cardinals’ offense took the field once again against Denver’s defense. Facing a 3rd and 5, McCoy lobbed a pass across the middle of the field but overshot it into the hands of Justin Simmons, who snagged his fourth interception of the season and returned it 20 yards to give the Broncos offense great field position.

Fortunately for the Broncos’ offense, Dalton Risner returned to the lineup after Denver’s defense intercepted McCoy. Unfortunately, they couldn’t capitalize on the takeaway. To make matters worse, Brandon McManus missed an easy 38-yard field goal attempt, failing to reward Denver’s defense for getting the ball back to them.

Denver’s defense found themselves back on the field after McManus’ miss. McCoy and the Cardinals’ offense moved the ball past midfield and crept near the red zone, but Denver’s defense held firm on 3rd and 6. Former Broncos kicker Matt Prater tied the game at 3 after booting in a chip shot field goal.

More problems persisted for Denver’s offense after the offensive line struggled to block JJ Watt, who came free on a stunt, sacking Brett Rypien. The Cardinals continued to attack Denver’s interior offensive line and had success doing so, leading to Denver punting possession away once again.

The Cardinals’ offense started their ensuing drive with great field position on their own 45-yard line. Led by Mike Purcell and DeShawn Williams, Denver’s defense swarmed after Colt McCoy on second down, forcing the Cardinals offense to face a long field on third down where they rallied after James Conner on a third down stop.

Rypien and the Broncos offense got the ball back on their own 11-yard line on their ensuing possession. In a wash, rinse, repeat fashion, Denver’s offense couldn’t push the ball downfield due to pressure dictating a need to utilize a quick passing approach. Arizona’s defense rallied against the Broncos on third down and forced another punt.

The Broncos’ defense was forced to hold off the Cardinals’ offense with under two minutes remaining. On 2nd and 10, Baron Browning and DeShawn Williams combined for a sack on Colt McCoy, forcing a 3rd and 12. K’Waun Williams who saw his second game back after having knee surgery, made a terrific play against Marquise Brown on a screen play, forcing the Cardinals to punt it back to Denver with 1:09 remaining in the first half.

After a big catch by Jerry Jeudy moved the Broncos offense near midfield, JJ Watt screamed off the offensive right side and knocked the ball out of Rypien’s hands as he attempted to throw, leading to his third sack of the game and giving the Cardinals the ball back. The Cardinals capitalized on a questionable pass interference call against Essang Bassey to move into field goal range, allowing Matt Prater to give the Cardinals a 6-3 lead going into halftime.

Denver’s offensive line struggled immensely in the first half against the Arizona Cardinals defense. In the first half, the Cardinals sacked Brett Rypien six times and hit him eight times, but that would change in the second half.

Denver Broncos capitalize on opportunity to run away from the Cardinals

Denver’s defense started off the second half looking to get the ball back from the Cardinals’ offense. On the second play of the half, Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy dove forward to pick up the first down. McCoy was hurt on the play and was down for quite some time before heading into the locker room. Trace McSorely took over as quarterback for Arizona.

Led by DeShawn Williams who tallied his 2.5 sack on the day, the Broncos’ defense held the Cardinals to a 55-yard field goal by Prater, extending Arizona’s lead to 9-3. Denver’s offense received a boost from Latavius Murray who scampered off a 35-yard run. On that exact play, offensive guard Tom Compton, who was filling in for Quinn Meinerz, was hurt on the play and was assisted off the field. More injuries on the offensive line.

The Broncos offense moved uptempo with several key runs by Murray and two big catches by tight end Eric Tomlinson that drove the offense to the three-yard line. Marlon Mack powered the Broncos into the endzone from three yards out to give Denver a 10-9 advantage midway through the third quarter.

With a one-point lead and plenty of time on the clock, the Broncos’ defense was back on the field against McSorely and the Cardinals’ offense. With pressure in his face, McSorely launched a pass into the ground resulting in an intentional grounding call. Empower Field at Mile High was shaking as the Cardinals faced a 3rd and 19. Denver’s defense rallied against a dump-off pass to James Conner, leading to another Arizona punt.

Unfortunately, the Broncos’ offensive line continued to struggle as Jonathan Ledbetter took advantage of rookie offensive lineman Luke Wattenberg, leading to the Cardinals’ seventh sack of the day against Denver. However, Rypien with poise delivered a strike to Jerry Jeudy on the right sideline for 11 yards, then subsequently connected with Jeudy again for 14 yards. Two plays later, Rypien attempted to connect with Eric Saubert in the endzone, but the pass was intercepted by Budda Baker who jumped the route.

Denver’s defense pinned their ears back with the Cardinals backed up on their own two-yard line. McSorely attempted to unload a throw downfield, but rookie cornerback Damarri Mathis was blanketed all over Robbie Anderson downfield, leading to another Cardinals punt.

The Broncos’ offense got the ball past midfield once again after Murray and Mack rattled off several chunk plays. On 2nd and 4, Rypien connected with Broncos newcomer Freddie Swain who did the rest with a catch and run of nine yards. On the very next play, Mack exploded to the outside for a 17-yard gain, giving the Broncos prime opportunity inside the red zone. On the ensuing play, Latavius Murray powered it in from 10 yards out to give the Broncos a 17-9 lead with 11:00 remaining in the fourth quarter.

With the Cardinals trailing, Trace McSorely looked to connect with DeAndre Hopkins across the middle of the field on third down, but Justin Simmons jumped the route, intercepting the pass and returning it 23 yards to the Cardinals’ 5-yard line. Two plays later, Brett Rypien found tight end Eric Tomlinson for a wide-open touchdown to extend the Broncos’ lead to 24-9 with 9:29 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Cardinals offense and McSorely responded on their ensuing drive, marching down the field and scoring on a 7-play, 78-yard drive to trim Denver’s lead to 24-15 after a failed two-point conversion attempt. The Broncos offense would get the ball back with a chance to ice the game with 6:01 remaining. Led by Murray and Mack on the ground, Denver ran four minutes off the clock. Corliss Waitman booted one of the best punts of his career down to the Cardinals’ three-yard line, forcing McSorely and company to march 97 yards downfield with 1:48 remaining, trailing 24-15.

Patrick Surtain secured the Broncos victory, intercepting McSorely on the left sideline helping solidify a strong second-half finish by Denver.

The Broncos improve to 4-10 on the season with the win.

Broncos locker room report

Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, who finished the game with seven catches for 76 yards said that getting a win in front of the home crowd felt great. “It’s been a little while now, but it feels good,” Jeudy said in the locker room after the Broncos’ 24-15 win. “Getting this win under our belt, especially at home, you just want to enjoy this moment.”

Jeudy spoke highly of Brett Rypien who started in place of Russell Wilson and his command of the offense, especially in the second half. “He did a good job of controlling the offense,” Jeudy said. “There were some times when things didn’t go our way, but he was still out there competing and doing his thing and we took advantage of every opportunity. I feel like he did a great job handling everything.”

Speaking of Jeudy, Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett touched on how Jeudy has embraced knowing the offensive system, which has led to him thriving when targeted inside of the offense.

“He’s done a great job understanding the system,” Hackett said in his postgame press conference. “We moved his position around quite a bit. We move him around the field so that people can’t get a beat on him. We’ve had a lot of different wide receivers out there. We saw Freddie Swain go out there and make a play which was great to see, Brandon Johnson, and all those different guys are going in there. I think Jerry’s taking advantage of his knowledge of the system so that we can put him in different spots, whether it’s the slot, whether it’s single, whether it’s outside, inside all over the place. It just shows his football intelligence to be able to be moved around and find those sweet spots.”

Broncos news and notes vs. Arizona Cardinals

Justin Simmons snags 26th career interception.
In Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, Justin Simmons snagged two interceptions giving him 26 for his career. Simmons now has five total interceptions on the year and has two games this season with 2+ takeaways through the air. Sunday’s performance cemented Simmons with three consecutive seasons with five interceptions.

Broncos Game Balls.
After Justin Simmons’ two-interception performance on Sunday, he was given a game ball for his contributions on defense. Veteran running back Latavius Murray was awarded the first game ball of his career after his 24 carry 130-yard day on the ground.

Broncos offensive line protection struggles.
In the Broncos’ win on Sunday, offensive line issues persisted for the Broncos due to injury and execution. Brett Rypien was sacked seven times on Sunday, with six of the sacks coming in the first half. Denver made several adjustments in the second half according to Nathaniel Hackett that helped limit Arizona’s pressure.

Broncos inactives vs. Cardinals.
Defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones was inactive after it was announced on Saturday that he’d miss up to four to six weeks as he deals with a lingering hip injury. Wide receivers Kendall Hinton and Courtland Sutton were inactive as they continue to work their way back from hamstring injuries. Russell Wilson was inactive despite clearing concussion protocol. Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, cornerback Michael Ojemudia, offensive tackle Quinn Bailey, and defensive lineman Elijah Garcia were all healthy scratches.

Broncos injury report.
Offensive guard Quinn Meinerz suffered an eye injury in the first quarter and did not return. He left the stadium during the game to be examined by an eye specialist. He is considered day-by-day according to Hackett. Offensive guard Tom Compton suffered a back injury during Sunday’s win and did not return.