Key takeaways from Broncos preseason loss to Cardinals

- Broncos lose 2023-24 preseason kickoff

- Key takeaways and stats from the game

- Kicking problems?

Denver Broncos v Arizona Cardinals
Denver Broncos v Arizona Cardinals / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

The Denver Broncos lost their 2023-24 first preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, by one point, after the Cardinals converted a two-point conversion with two seconds left in the clock. The game ended with an 18-17 score.

During the week, head coach Sean Payton mentioned that starters were playing between 15 to 18 snaps. It went a little differently...The starting offense played for four drives, and starting defense played for two drives. From the starters, tackle Mike McGlinchey (injury), edge Frank Clark, cornerback Pat Surtain II, and safety Justin Simmons did not play.

Wilson and the offense struggled in the first three drives. The first one was a three-and-out, which ended in a punt, and the other two finished with missed field goals. Brett Maher missed from 47 yards, and Elliott Fry missed from 50 yards. Sean Payton was aggressive, he wanted the starters to get out of the game in a positive way, so he sent them for a fourth drive, and what a drive that was...A 57-yard drive that finished with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Jerry Jeudy. The starting offensive line allowed six pressures on Wilson, which was a big part of the early struggles. The aggressiveness and motivation from Sean Payton worked. The starting defense allowed zero points, but defensive tackle DJ Jones left the game with a concussion. Second-year pass rusher Nik Bonitto left the game with a hip issue.

Second and third-stringers entered the game. It was not the best night for quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who was signed in free agency, as he had only five completions and threw an interception. He entered the game for Russell Wilson, finished the second quarter, and played the entire third quarter. Third-string quarterback Ben DiNucci played the entire fourth quarter.

Denver started their last offensive drive with 4:38 left on the clock. With 1:34 left, running back Jaleel McLaughlin had a four-yard touchdown run that put the Broncos up by seven points at that point. Arizona scored a touchdown with two seconds left in the game and walked it off with a successful two-point conversion to win the game.

Regarding the defense, defensive back Essang Bassey had a first-quarter interception, defensive tackle Elijah Garcia had two sacks in three plays, Ja'Quan McMillian and Justin Strnad had one sack, finally, Matt Henningsen and Nik Bonitto had a combined sack. Delonte Hood led the defense in tackles, with four.

Riley Dixon had a bad first punt, a 32-yard one, then had one 56-yard and a 47-yard punt placed in the 8-yard line, but returned to the 22-yard line.

Key Stats from Denver Broncos preseason loss to Cardinals

  • QB Russell Wilson: 7/13 CMP/ATT, 93 yards, 1 TD (sacked once)
  • QB Jarrett Stidham: 5/15 CMP/ATT, 50 yards, 1 interception (sacked once)
  • QB Ben DiNucci: 7/9 CMP/ATT, 57 yards
  • Jaleel McLaughlin: 4 carries, 20 yards, 1 TD
  • Samaje Perine: 6 carries, 26 yards
  • Jerry Jeudy: 2 receptions, 40 yards, 1 TD
  • Courtland Sutton: 3 receptions, 35 yards
  • Michael Bandy: 3 receptions, 27 yards
  • Delonte Hood: 4 tackles
  • Elijah Garcia: 3 tackles, 2 sacks
  • Jaquan McMillian: 3 tackles, 1 sack
  • Brett Maher: 0/2 field goals (one blocked), 1/1 extra points
  • Elliott Fry: 1/2 field goals (55-yard FG made), 1/1 extra points

Final Takeaways:

1. Defensive line looked very aggressive but gave a lot of time to the QBs to throw.
2. Offensive line, especially in pass protection looked weak.
3. Starting kicker could be none of Maher/Fry.
4. Russell Wilson, when given time, was good.
5. Broncos' 53-man roster might have four running backs, including Jaleel McLaughlin.
6. DiNucci outplayed Stidham.
7. Tackling is still a problem.
8. Team looked disciplined regarding flags.


What are your overall thoughts on the Broncos' preseason week 1 loss against the Cardinals?

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