DENVER — In the end Trevor Siemian didn’t throw for 180 yards in his first NFL start, he did throw two interceptions and it wasn’t always a smooth ride on the learning curve.
But the 24-year-old never lost his composure and showed why Broncos coach Gary Kubiak picked him as Peyton Manning‘s replacement in a tense 21-20 victory over the Carolina Panthers Thursday night.
“Sure, there’s butterflies every time you play,” Siemian said. “I think something is wrong with you if you don’t. I’m just super confident in the group of guys we have offensively. There are a lot of vets and a lot of great leadership in that group that I can lean on, and I’m just really confident in those guys.”
Siemian, whose NFL resume coming into the game had been just one regular-season play, a kneel down against the Pittsburgh Steelers last December, finished 18-of-26 passing for 178 yards with a touchdown and the two interceptions.
Quarterback Trevor Siemian least of Broncos’ worries in victory
Quarterback Trevor Siemian rebounded from two interceptions for a solid outing — and victory — in his first NFL start.
Broncos escape as Panthers’ winner sails left
Denver’s dominant defense came up big against Cam Newton again and the Broncos escaped with a 21-20 victory over the Carolina Panthers Thursday night when Graham Gano missed a 50-yard field goal
Source: Elway tells Siemian his QB job secure
John Elway met one-on-one with Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian before the season opener against the Panthers and told him not to worry about making mistakes.
But Siemian was also composed in big moments, putting together two touchdown drives in the second half as the Broncos became the first Super Bowl winner to trail by at least eight points in the next season’s opener before coming back for the win.
The Broncos rushed for 148 yards in the game and had a close-to-even split in the play-calling with Siemian’s 26 pass attempts to go with their 29 rushing attempts.
“I thought Trevor handled his end of the bargain well,” Kubiak said.
The Broncos opened the game with a case of nerves around their new quarterback – at least it appeared that way. They had taken their opening drive of the game to the Panthers’ 29-yard line when rookie Devontae Booker fumbled. Siemian’s first interception ended the Broncos’ second drive of the game – at the Panthers’ 25-yard line.
On that play Siemian’s throw was swatted by Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei before being intercepted by Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis. It all meant the Panthers had a 17-7 lead at halftime. Then Siemian was picked off again in the Broncos’ first possession in the third quarter when, in the face of a blitz he couldn’t step into the throw.
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was open inside the Panthers’ 10-yard line, but the pass was underthrown and intercepted by Panthers cornerback Bene Benwikere. But Kubiak said Siemian was never rattled after all of that.
“Nah, he wasn’t,” Kubiak said. “And actually the second interception, it really wasn’t his fault … and in fairness to the kid we should have picked (the blitz) up and he should have been able to step and throw. We didn’t get that done.”
At that point Siemian showed what likely won him the job in the first place, at least in addition to a power arm. It’s his composure and ability to rebound from trouble.
After his second interception and a rather ugly three-and-out that followed for the Broncos’ offense, Siemian led two touchdown drives. The first of those scores came when Siemian stared down the Panthers pressure and tossed a screen pass to running back C.J. Anderson.
Anderson took it 25 yards for a score that made it, 17-14.
“There was pressure and I knew I had to get it to C.J., somehow, some way and it would be a big play,” Siemian said. “He made a couple moves, had a heck of a run and got it in there … I knew it was a big play if I could get it to him. Somehow, some way, get it to C.J. and he’ll take care of it.”
“That was a great job,” Kubiak said. ” … But Trevor really did an amazing job of pulling the rush in and getting the ball off … Just a really good by the kind of handling the situation.”
Anderson scored on a 1-yard run to close out the Broncos’ next possession and put the Broncos in position for the comeback win.
“We’ve got a resilient team and you saw that tonight,” Siemian said.