To say that the Denver Broncos were beaten up by the Vikings in the first half would be an understatement.
The Broncos only had 61 total offensive yards and one singular first down in the first half while allowing the Vikings to gain 269 yards of their own equating to 14 first downs and 24 points. The Vikings almost doubled the Broncos time of possession and had a lead of 24-14 at the end of the first two quarters. Paxton Lynch was severely out-played by Trevor Siemian, the Broncos rush defense was getting decimated, and without offensive rhythm the run game was never allowed to grow and prosper. Without an interception off of a deflected pass and a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown by Isaiah McKenzie, the Broncos would have likely failed to score at all in the first half.
With so much going wrong in the first half, the second half brought more hope along with it. Here are the takeaways from the second half of the Broncos first preseason game against the Vikings.
- Isaac Yiadom continued to struggle defending the pass. He has plenty of talent and had a strong camp, but in his first NFL action he struggled. There is still lots of improvement for him to make, but he struggled his first time out.
- Philip Lindsay played well when he was able to get the ball in his hands. His side step after catching a screen pass in the 3rd quarter showed that he has the quickness to be effective. It is seeming more and more likely that he could carve out a role for himself.
- Chad Kelly continued to build the hype surrounding him. He came in and was perfect on his first drive as a member of the Broncos. He was 3-for-3 passing for 57 yards and a touchdown. Kelly is not just a fan-favorite, but he also outplayed Paxton Lynch easily — albeit against worse competition — and looks like he may have a shot to steal the backup quarterback role.
- Kyle Sloter, a Broncos fan favorite last season, came in as the third-string quarterback and struggled. His issues allowed the Broncos to gain some positive momentum which carried them to within just six points after being down by as many as 17 points.
- I know he has already been discussed, but Kelly was phenomenal in his NFL debut. The Broncos had just one first down in the first half, but Kelly helped the Broncos offense to nine first downs in the third quarter alone. He threw for 176 yards while throwing 14-of-20 on pass attempts to go with 38 yards rushing. He also threw for two touchdowns and carried the Broncos to a lead after trailing by as many as 17 points just to put a cherry on the top of his performance. What a game from Kelly even if it was against third-string defenders.
- Even Kelly can’t stay perfect. As he was attempting to drive down the field to take the lead back from the Vikings, he threw an interception that eventually led to a Vikings touchdown and that snowballed for him. The confidence and swagger dissipated and he began struggling. He played well, but not as well as Kyle Sloter did. With the good comes the bad.
- Philip Lindsay did exactly what was expected of him all game. He caught a touchdown, ran well, and played well on special teams. It was hard to fault any part of his game.
Seeing Kelly carry the Broncos was the highlight of the Broncos first preseason game. There is never much of anything to takeaway from preseason football, but Kelly was easily the MVP of the game. He was poised, confident, and played out of his mind.
After trailing by as many as 17 points, the Broncos stormed back to take a 28-27 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, they were unable to hang on, but the fight showed by Kelly and Co. was impressive regardless of the outcome. The Broncos fell in their first preseason game 42-28.
The Broncos take on the Chicago Bears in Denver next on August 18th.