NFL Preseason Week 1 Game Recap: Arizona Cardinals 18, Denver Broncos 17

2RGWGGD Denver Broncos defensive tackle Elijah Garcia, right, celebrates after a sack against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Glendale, Ariz., Friday, Aug. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton and Arizona Cardinals Jonathan Gannon faced off in the desert making their debuts with new teams. Quarterback David Blough led a two-minute drill that resulted in a touchdown pass to a wide-open Brian Cobbs in the end zone with two seconds left, which then set up an Emari Demercado pile-moving run for the two-point conversion win.


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Offensive spotlight: The Broncos played its first-team offense well into the second quarter as they struggled to find their footing early led by Russell Wilson under center going up against a number of Cardinals’ second and third-teamers. Finally, the fourth offensive drive with Wilson and company led to a Jerry Jeudy 21-yard touchdown, one play after he had a key drop on third down. Wilson finished this game with just a 53.8% completion rate and 93 yards through most of the first half.

Defensive spotlight: The Cardinals have been experimenting with two former first-round defenders, Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons, in new positions this offseason, and this was the first game action where we go to see how that looked. Collins played every defensive snap through the first two drives exclusively on the edge, performing well with a QB hit and a nice unblocked tackle for no gain on the backside of a run play. Simmons played three defensive drives and played 93% of those snaps as a true safety, which he only spent 6% of his snaps doing last season.

The Broncos' defense landed five sacks on the Cardinals’ quarterbacks throughout this game. They were led by defensive tackle Elijah Garcia, who posted two sacks on the same drive against David Blough in the fourth quarter. Garcia — a 2022 UDFA – will be fighting for a roster spot where the Broncos are hoping depth can emerge behind Zach Allen and D.J. Jones. Multiple sacks should certainly help his case.

Rookie spotlight: Rookie fifth-round quarterback Clayton Tune came into the game on the second offensive series after Colt McCoy played the first drive. With no Week 1 starter named just yet in Kyler Murray’s absence, Tune got plenty of reps under center, throwing for 135 yards and a touchdown on 23 pass attempts well into the fourth quarter. While there was an interception in there as well, it was (unofficially) deemed not to be a turnover-worthy throw as his receiver fell down on the play. Tune should continue to get plenty of run here in the preseason, as he’s been reportedly impressing in camp and may need to get on the field in a starting role at some point this season depending on Murray’s health and McCoy’s performance.

Offensive line spotlight: Lloyd Cushenberry III is penciled in as the starting center for Week 1 and got the start in this one ahead of Kyle Fuller. Cushenberry saw 14 pass-blocking opportunities and didn’t allow a single pressure or sack. Overall, Cushenberry played 20 offensive snaps and didn’t make any crucial mistakes that would cost him his starting spot in this one.


Box Score

Passing
Denver Broncos
Player Fantasy Comp/Att Yds YPA TD Int
Russell Wilson 7.72 7 / 13 93 7.2 1 0
Jarrett Stidham 2.9 5 / 15 50 3.3 0 1
Ben DiNucci 2.28 7 / 9l 57 6.3 0 0
Arizona Cardinals
Player Fantasy Comp/Att Yds YPA TD Int
Clayton Tune 9.3 13 / 23 135 5.9 1 1
David Blough 7.44 8 / 14 86 6.1 1 0
Colt McCoy 1.18 4 / 4 17 4.2 0 0
Rushing
Denver Broncos
Player Fantasy Car Yds YPC TD Long
Jaleel McLaughlin 10.2 4 20 5 1 7
Tyler Badie 5.6 6 24 4 0 10
Jarrett Stidham 2.9 2 19 9.5 0 13
Samaje Perine 2.6 6 26 4.3 0 11
Jalen Virgil 2.5 1 25 25 0 25
Tony Jones Jr. 2.3 3 8 2.7 0 4
Arizona Cardinals
Player Fantasy Car Yds YPC TD Long
Clayton Tune 9.3 4 9 2.2 0 4
Corey Clement 5.8 6 15 2.5 0 5
Emari Demercado 5.5 6 21 3.5 0 11
Ty'Son Williams 5.1 10 51 5.1 0 15
Colt McCoy 1.18 1 5 5 0 5
Receiving
Denver Broncos
Player Fantasy Tgt Rec Yds YPT TD
Jerry Jeudy 12 3 2 40 13.3 1
Jaleel McLaughlin 10.2 1 1 12 12 0
Courtland Sutton 6.5 5 3 35 7 0
Michael Bandy 5.7 4 3 27 6.8 0
Tyler Badie 5.6 3 2 12 4 0
Adam Trautman 3.8 3 2 18 6 0
Lil'Jordan Humphrey 3.6 3 1 26 8.7 0
Taylor Grimes 3.6 3 2 16 5.3 0
Samaje Perine 2.6 1 0 0 0 0
Jalen Virgil 2.5 3 0 0 0 0
Tony Jones Jr. 2.3 2 1 5 2.5 0
Marquez Callaway 1.7 2 1 7 3.5 0
Tommy Hudson 1.2 1 1 2 2 0
Montrell Washington 0 1 0 0 0 0
Arizona Cardinals
Player Fantasy Tgt Rec Yds YPT TD
Brian Cobbs 10.2 3 2 22 7.3 1
Kaden Davis 9.6 3 2 16 5.3 1
Blake Whiteheart 9.2 7 5 42 6 0
Daniel Arias 7.9 5 3 49 9.8 0
Andre Baccellia 7.5 4 3 45 11.2 0
Corey Clement 5.8 3 3 13 4.3 0
Emari Demercado 5.5 1 1 4 4 0
Michael Wilson 2.8 3 2 8 2.7 0
Davion Davis 2.6 1 1 16 16 0
Rondale Moore 2.3 2 1 13 6.5 0
Joel Honigford 1.8 1 1 8 8 0
Geoff Swaim 1.2 1 1 2 2 0
Greg Dortch 0 3 0 0 0 0

 

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