NFL GAME RECAP

Broncos survive late FG miss to beat Panthers

The Sports Xchange

September 08, 2016 at 10:09 pm.

Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano (9) misses a fifty yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Panthers 21-20. Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano (9) misses a fifty yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Panthers 21-20. Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

DENVER — The Denver Broncos began the new season the same way they ended last season, by beating the Carolina Panthers.

In the NFL’s kickoff game, C.J. Anderson ran for a score and caught another in the fourth quarter, and the Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers 21-20 on Thursday night in a Super Bowl rematch.

Denver beat the Panthers 24-10 in the championship game seven months ago.

Trevor Siemian, starting in place of the retired Peyton Manning, overcame two interceptions in his NFL starting debut to throw for a late score to help the Broncos rally.

Cam Newton ran for a score, passed for another and led the Panthers to within field goal range in the final seconds, but Graham Gano’s 50-yard try was wide left.

During the pregame playing of the national anthem, Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall took a knee. Marshall was a college teammate at Nevada with San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been taking a knee during the anthem to protest racial injustice.

Trailing by 10, the Broncos pulled to within 17-14 when Anderson turned a screen pass from Siemian into a 25-yard touchdown with 14:50 remaining.

On Carolina’s ensuing possession, cornerback Chris Harris tipped Newton’s pass intended for Kelvin Benjamin and caught the deflection for the interception as he tumbled to the ground. A roughing penalty on Carolina guard Andrew Norwell gave the Broncos possession at the Panthers’ 23-yard line.

Anderson converted a 4th-and-1 play to give the Broncos a fresh set of downs inside Carolina’s 2-yard line and bulled his way into the end zone on third down to put Denver in front for the first time.

Newton gamely drove the Panthers to the Broncos 18, but his third-down pass for Devin Funchess was knocked down by cornerback Aqib Talib, leading to Gano’s 36-yard field goal with 4:21 remaining to pull Carolina to within a point.

After forcing a Denver punt, Carolina got the ball at its 40-yard line with 3:06 left. Denver’s defense induced a false start penalty followed by successive sacks of Newton by DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. But an illegal hands to the face penalty against Harris negated a fourth-down incompletion and extended Carolina’s last-ditch drive.

Dominating possession time and twice thwarting Denver drives by forcing turnovers, Carolina took a 17-7 halftime lead.

Newton, capitalizing on a fumble by rookie running back Devontae Booker on his first NFL carry, finished a 71-yard first-quarter drive with a 14-yard pass to Benjamin. Carolina’s first-round pick in 2014, Benjamin was back on the field after missing all of last season with a knee injury.

The Broncos misfired on anther drive ending in an interception of a Siemian pass by linebacker Shaq Thompson before getting on the scoreboard with a 28-yard touchdown run by rookie fullback Andy Janovich.

Newton answered by leading an 18-play, 89-yard drive. He dodged pressure to complete a key third-down pass to tight end Greg Olsen to keep the drive going and finished it with a quarterback sweep from 2 yards, diving over the pylon with the ball in one hand for the touchdown.

Gano added a 44-yard field goal just before the half ended.

Before the game began, the trappings of the defending Super Bowl champion were on display.

General manager John Elway, the architect of last season’s championship team and the Hall of Fame quarterback who led Denver to its first two Super Bowl titles in the late 1990s, brought the Lombardi Trophy onto the field to the roar of the crowd. He later handed it off to Peyton Manning, who paraded the trophy before fans in his business suite. Manning retired a month after helping the Broncos beat the Panthers 24-10 in the Super Bowl.

NOTES: Broncos DE Derek Wolfe left in the fourth quarter because of a neck injury. … Denver WR Jordan Norwood left the game in the first quarter to be evaluated for a concussion. He was later cleared to return. … The Broncos were without WR Bennie Fowler, who was among the team’s inactive players after breaking a bone in his right elbow during the team’s exhibition opener at Chicago. The NFL debut of Broncos TE Jeff Heuerman also is on hold because of an ankle injury. The second-year pro missed his rookie season because of a knee injury he sustained in minicamp. … Panthers S Dean Marlowe, sidelined the past month by a hamstring strain, was not active for the game. … Carolina G Trai Turner drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting Denver CB Chris Harris Jr., who had just been beaten for the Panthers’ first touchdown.

 

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