ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There won’t be any griping from Trevor Siemian’s critics this week, Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas included.
In leading Denver (3-0) to a 29-17 win at Cincinnati on Sunday, Siemian became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in his first road start.
When coach Gary Kubiak awarded him a game ball in the jubilant locker room at Paul Brown Stadium afterward, Siemian’s teammates acted like they’d just won the lottery .
“That’s just the type of team that we got, just wild, crazy guys,” said Von Miller, who’s sure this was just the first of many accolades coming Siemian’s way.
“He’s just got that aura about him,” Miller suggested. “If you would have told me three years ago after Peyton, it was going to be Trevor and he was going to be this good, I don’t think anybody else could have predicted that. It just shows you the type of work that he put in, the type of guy that he is.”
An afterthought in college, where he only started one full season at Northwestern, Siemian was a seventh-round pick in 2015 and the forgotten man behind the Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler drama during the Broncos’ Super Bowl season.
Even when Manning retired and Osweiler bolted in free agency, Siemian found himself behind journeyman Mark Sanchez, whom he promptly beat out this summer.
Any notion that he was keeping the seat warm for first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch fizzled with his play Sunday. It was his second fourth-quarter comeback in three weeks, the kind that marked the careers of both his predecessor and his boss, Hall of Fame QB-turned-GM John Elway.
Siemian was 8 for 9 for 148 yards and two touchdowns after the Broncos fell behind 17-16 on Mike Nugent’s 34-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
“He’s got that elite type of feel about him, the same feel that Peyton had about him,” Miller said. “He’s still got a long way to go. But I believe in him. I believe in Trevor all the way. He just makes all the right decisions. He’s got a strong arm. I believe in him.”
So does Kubiak, as evidenced by the gutsy call he made when the Broncos got the ball back at their 17 with 6:02 remaining. Denver was clinging to a 22-17 lead following eight-year veteran tight end John Phillips’ fifth career TD catch. Rather than take the safe route and play the field position game with Denver’s dynamic defense ready to serve as the savior once again, Kubiak showed faith in his young QB.
Siemian hit fellow 2015 draft pick Jeff Heuerman with a 29-yard pass for the tight end’s first catch as a pro.
“Loved it,” Siemian said of the play call. “I thought we were aggressive all game long, and that’s how you have to be against teams like this to keep them off-balance.”
On the next snap, Siemian dropped back and hit Thomas for a 55-yard, game-sealing touchdown .
“Your confidence just continues to grow and I’m not just talking about myself, I’m talking about all of us,” Kubiak said Monday. “As coaches we see how he can handle things. … We’re watching him prepare and we watch how much information that he’s able to (process). We’re getting a lot of comfort there watching him keep up and handle the team.
“With that, there’s growth coming and obviously turning him loose in situations. I’m feeling better about his decision-making process and some of the things that he’s doing. Just have to keep going.”
Siemian quieted his pair of Pro Bowl receivers who griped last week about not being targeted enough.
“It wasn’t frustration, we just know what we are capable of doing on the field,” said Sanders, who had nine receptions for 117 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season Sunday. “We’re the best that does it with the 1-2 punch.”
Thomas caught six passes for 100 yards and scored his first TD of the season.
“Trevor played outstanding,” Sanders said. “Obviously going in, no one knew about him. But now everybody started talking about him.”
NOTES: Kubiak said both TE Virgil Green (calf) and RT Donald Stephenson (calf), who missed the game Sunday, are day to day. … The Broncos have outscored opponents 45-13 in the fourth quarter. “We’re playing some good football at the right times,” Kubiak said.
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton