The game was supposed to be about whether the Broncos could stop Ezekiel Elliott. (They did, in a way no other team has to date.) But it became about whether the Cowboys could stop Trevor Siemian and C.J. Anderson.
The third-year quarterback didn’t set a career high in yards and he twice turned the ball over inside his own territory, but he passed for a career-high four touchdowns in a 42-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Denver to move to 2-0 on the season.
Siemian was aided by a 118-yard rushing effort by Anderson, 60 of which came in the second half.
The Broncos got off to a fast start, putting seven points on the board on their first possession. He was 5-for-6 on the opening drive, splitting the Cowboys defense and hitting Emmanuel Sanders with a 10-yard strike deep in the end zone. The two connected for a 25-yard hook up earlier in the drive, with Sanders picking up significant yards after the catch. Demaryius Thomas was in on the YAC action too during the drive with a 27-yard catch and run on third down to prevent a three-and-out. Anderson added 12 yards (10 on the ground) to help complete a 78-yard, eight-play opening drive that was as efficient as we’ve seen from the Broncos in a long while. Denver used just 3:45 to find the end zone and grab a 7-0 lead.
Denver appeared to have all cylinders firing on their second possession, after traveling 63 yards from their own 6-yard line stalled out. Siemian failed to see a wide-open Thomas downfield on third-and-two from the Dallas 31, instead throwing incomplete behind Bennie Fowler. Brandon McManus then missed a 49-yard field goal attempt and the Cowboys dodged a bullet.
An hour-long weather delay Denver cut short a Dallas drive to force their third punt in as many possessions, but things took a bad turn for Siemian on the ensuing possession.
On third-and-five at the Denver 25, Demarcus Lawrence beat Menelik Watson badly on the inside and got to Siemian to force a fumble, which Dallas recovered on the Broncos’ 3-yard line. Dez Bryant out-muscled Aqib Talib to find the end zone and tie the game two plays later.
Siemian and the Denver offense responded by taking the ball from their own 19 all the way to the Dallas 19 when another sack allowed nearly cost them. Watson was again beat and Siemian took the sack to force a 50-yard try from McManus. The successful kick was nullified by a (new) ‘leverage’ penalty on Dallas on the try. Three plays later, Siemian hit Anderson on a pivot route the running back took 16 yards into the end zone.
A critical offensive pass interference penalty on third down against Dez Bryant on the ensuing possession forced a Dallas punt, which Isaiah McKenzie returned to midfield to set up Denver’s third touchdown drive of the half. Siemian picked up a critical first down with his legs inside the red zone with 1:51 on the clock to keep the drive alive. He hit Sanders for his second touchdown of the day on the very next play. Jamaal Charles ran for 23 yards on the 51-yard drive.
Siemian connected with eight different receivers in the first half, which Denver led 21-10 after a late Dan Bailey 56-yard field goal. The QB had 150 net yards passing and three touchdowns in the half.
The second half appeared to be off to an ideal start for Denver, as Simian led his team 72 yards on 13 plays to be knocking on the door of the end zone. On play 13 of the drive, though, rookie left tackle Garett Bolles went down with an ankle injury and had to be carted off the field. Two plays later Siemian found Virgil Green for his fourth touchdown pass of the day to cap a 7:04 drive, but at a high cost with the loss of Bolles.
Denver found the end zone again just 1:42 later after Chris Harris picked of Prescott on the next possession and returned the ball to the Cowboys’ 23. Anderson broke free for an impressive 23-yard touchdown run two plays later to stretch Denver’s lead to 35-10.
The Broncos offense took over on downs following the Cowboys’ next possession, but gave it right back after Siemian came out passing on first down. Miscommunication on play-action with Anderson caused Siemian to throw early to Demaryius Thomas on a curl and put the ball right into the waiting hands of Jourdan Lewis.
The Cowboys would convert the turnover with a Jason Witten 28-yard touchdown reception.
After trading three-and-outs, Anderson churned out a key first down from deep in Broncos territory to open the next drive. A pass interference penalty moved the chains again, but Denver would punt again after burning 5:20 off the clock.
Prescott and Witten nearly connected in the end zone again on the Cowboys’ next drive, but the ball was just out of reach for the future Hall of Fame tight end. Von Miller jumped offside twice (one was declined), but finally got to Prescott on the drive. Bradley Roby was strong on coverage of Bryant in the end zone on fourth down and Siemian and the Broncos took over on downs.
Denver handed the ball right back, but forced Dallas to burn their timeouts on the ensuing possession.
An Talib pick-six, the 10th of his career, which went 103 yards and a Broncos record, sealed it for Denver.
The win keeps Denver tied atop the AFC West with both Kansas City and Oakland at 2-0.