Tremendous Teddy lifts Broncos past Giants, 27-13

by 24USATVSept. 13, 2021, 12:40 a.m. 15
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Teddy didn't care. He is not one to fret about what just happened, no matter how bad. On to the next play. Third down, fourth down, whatever the next play presents.

Teddy Bridgewater one game into the regular season was the same quarterback the Broncos had seen since they acquired him in a trade the day before the NFL Draft.

Terrific Teddy led the Broncos to a resounding 27-13 victory against the New York Giants here on a comfortably warm early-September Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium on the 20th anniversary weekend of 9-11. A 70-yard touchdown run by Gordon with less than 5 minutes remaining clinched it for the Broncos who won their first season opener in three years under head coach Vic Fangio.

Moving the ball all game long, Bridgewater never panicked over his team’s inability to convert in the red zone early in the game, finishing off a final-minute drive of the first half with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Tim Patrick with 8 seconds left in the half.

Bridgewater then started the second half by converting a remarkable third-and-6 play by stiff-arming away from a sack and completing a 6-yard pass to the redemptive Albert Okwuegbunam. And the same duo hooked up to convert another fourth down in much the same fashion. On fourth-and-1 from the 4, Bridgewater again stiff-armed away from a would-be sack and threw a touchdown pass to Albert O.

Bridgewater showed why Fangio gave the veteran the nod over previous starter Drew Lock following a summer-long quarterback competition. Teddy Two Gloves finished 28 of 36 for 264 yards and two touchdowns. He directed two scoring drives that took 15 and 16 plays and a combined 16 minutes and 54 seconds of game clock.

It did appear the Broncos may have lost star receiver Jerry Jeudy to a serious lower leg injury. Jeudy caught a 20-yard pass on third-and-7 to set up first down at the Giants' 13-yard line on that first drive of the second half. Jeudy was carted off the field.

The drive ended when on fourth-and-1, Bridgewater scrambled away from what looked like a certain sack, zipped it to Okwuegbunam, who broke a tackle while driving to the pylon for a touchdown. It was the third, fourth-down conversion Bridgewater converted for Fangio, his gutsy head coach.

The Broncos should have been ahead by more than 10-7 at halftime as they moved the ball in each of their four possessions. Bridgewater played as he did during the preseason – in no particular hurry, but clutch under fourth-down pressure, if sans the big play. The Broncos scored first on a 15-play drive that took 8 minutes and 42 seconds of game clock – only to die at the Giants’ 5-yard line. A short Brandon McManus’ field goal early in the second quarter gave the Broncos a 3-0 lead.

To great frustration, the Giants scored quickly on their next possession with veteran receiver Sterling Shephard beating Broncos’ first-round rookie corner Pat Surtain II on a crossing route, then breaking Surtain’s tackle on his way in for a 37-yard touchdown catch-and-run. The Giants were up 7-3.

Again, Bridgewater led the Broncos deep into Giants’ territory on the next possession – only to see Okwuegbunam fumble it away at the Giants’ 4-yard line. Albert O was stripped by safety Logan Ryan near the sideline, but the ball stayed in bounds just enough for Ryan to recover.

Yet, they trailed, 7-3 with 2:25 left in the half. It became fourth-and-2 at the Giants’ 49 with 48 seconds left when Fangio showed great confidence in Bridgewater by going for it. The QB delivered – as he did on fourth downs during the preseason -- with a 14-yard strike to Courtland Sutton across the middle – Sutton’s first reception since suffering a torn ACL in game 2 last season. Bridgewater then hit, in quick succession, Jerry Jeudy for 17 yards and Patrick for 16, setting up first and goal at the 2.

To start the second half, Bridgewater didn't get flustered when a wide-open Hamler dropped a 50-yard heave to the end zone. Instead, Bridgewater completed a third-and-4 pass to tight end Noah Fant for 8 yards, a 20-yard out pass to Jerry Jeudy to convert third-and-7 and a 4-yard touchdown flip to Albert 0 to convert fourth-and-1. Jeudy suffered his knee injury while getting tackled down after his 20-yard catch. The play was initially ruled a fumbled but it was overturned showed Jeudy's knee went down awkwardly before he released the ball in pain.

Denver's D came through in the fourth quarter with one goal-to-goal stop and another red-zone turnover on downs. Fangio's red-zone defense had ranked No. 1 in the NFL each of the past two years.

The Broncos, who have averaged less than 6 wins a year each of the past four seasons, are 1-0 with a great chance to go at least 3-0 as up next are games against the league's two weakest teams from last year in Jacksonville and the New York Jets.

Von Miller had two sacks -- one early, one late -- his first in more than a year in his return from last season’s ankle injury. He also had a 6-yard tackle for loss on a running play.

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