Wide left: Broncos hold on to beat Panthers, 21-20, in thrilling opener

DENVER — Graham Gano pushed a 50-yard field goal attempt wide left with 4 seconds remaining as the Broncos held on to beat the Carolina Panthers, 21-20, in a rematch of Super Bowl 50 to kick off the 2016 regular season on Thursday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The Broncos beat the Panthers, 24-10, in Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7.

The Broncos dominant defense came up big in the fourth quarter, rallying from a 10-point defense against Cam Newton and the Panthers. The Broncos sacked Newton three times and hit him another eight times.

“We wanted to make sure we got to him,” safety T.J. Ward said. “Every time he ran we tried to put helmet and shoulder pads on him. If you’re not going to slide we’re going to put something on you. We saw him limping throughout the game so that running stuff, you can’t do that all game.”

It was the first NFL start for quarterback Trevor Siemian, who beat out Mark Sanchez for the starting job. He completed 18 of 26 passes for 178 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Newton drove the Panthers into field goal range with a 16-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin and a short pass to Ted Ginn Jr. with seconds remaining.

Gano made the kick after the Broncos called timeout, then went wide left.

“I was going to drill it, no doubt in my mind,” Gano said. “But this happens. It’s not going to define my season.”

“We’ve got a heck of a team, a resilient team. I think you saw that tonight,” Siemian said.

The Panthers took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Newton, who was 18 of 33 for 194 yards, found Benjamin on a 14-yard pass.

The Broncos responded to open the second quarter with a 28-yard touchdown run from rookie fullback Andy Janovich to tie it up.

The game wasn’t tied for long as Newton drove the Panthers to the 2-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown late to make it 14-7. Gano made a 44-yard field goal just before halftime to make it 17-7.

It stayed that way until the fourth quarter, when Siemian found C.J. Anderson on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 25-yard screen pass to make it 17-14.

Newton’s next pass was intercepted by Chris Harris Jr. at the Panthers 23. Anderson barreled his way in from the 1 — after the Broncos earlier went for it on fourth down — to put the Broncos ahead, 21-17, with 9:26 to play.

The Panthers drove but stalled, settling for a 36-yard field goal from Gano to make it 21-20. The Broncos went three-and-out, setting up the dramatic final 3:06.

 

Like the Super Bowl, the Broncos defense harassed Newton, with DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller sacking the quarterback. At one point, Newton was struggling to get to the bench.

RELATED: DeMarcus Ware sacks Cam Newton

Miller made a big play late, sweeping past right tackle Mike Remmers and sacking Newton at the two-minute warning. A penalty on fourth-and-21 kept the Panthers drive alive.

Recap the game with our live blog.

 

 

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Broncos inactives for tonight: QB Austin Davis, CB Lorenzo
Doss, WR Bennie Fowler, TE Jeff Heuerman, G Connor McGovern, DT Kyle Peko, T/G Ty Sambrailo. 

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Broncos inactives for tonight: Austin Davis, Lorenzo
Doss, Bennie Fowler, Jeff Heuerman,  Connor McGovern, Kyle Peko, Ty Sambrailo. 

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Broncos inactives for tonight: QB Austin Davis, WR Bennie Fowler, DB Lorenzo Doss, OL Connor McGovern, OL Ty Sambrailo, TE Jeff Heuerman, DL Kyle Peko.

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First play: Trevor Siemian pass short left to Demaryius Thomas to DEN 36 for 11 yards

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On 3rd and 10 at DEN 36 – Siemian pass short left to V.Green ran ob at DEN 48 for 12 yards.

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CJ Anderson runs it up the middle on 2nd and 5 at the CAR 47 for 13 yards.

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Fumble by Devontae Booker – Carolina recovers at CAR 29

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Huge gain for the Panthers on 1st and 10 – (Shotgun) T.Ginn left end to DEN 16 for 20 yards

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Big gain for the Panthers on 1st and 10 – (Shotgun) Ted Ginn left end to DEN 16 for 20 yards.

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Big gain for the Panthers on 1st and 10 from the DEN 36 – (Shotgun) Ted Ginn left end to DEN 16 for 20 yards.

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Touchdown Panthers – Cam Newton pass short right to Kelvin Benjamin from the DEN 14. 7-0 Panthers with 7:13 left in the 1st.

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Siemian pass short right to Sanders at DEN 39 for 14 yards.

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Siemian pass short right to Thomas at CAR 16 for 6 yards.

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Siemian sacked at CAR 25 for -9 yards.

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Another turnover for the Broncos on 3rd and 19 at the CAR 25 – Siemian intercepted by Ted Davis.

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Another turnover for the Broncos on 3rd and 19 at the CAR 25 – Siemian intercepted by Thomas Davis in pass intended for Emmanuel Sanders.

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The first quarter ends with Darian Stewart with a hit on Mike Tolbert. 7-0 Panthers. Will be Broncos ball to start the 2nd.

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2nd quarter opens up with a nice 15 yard pass from Siemian to Sanders to DEN 35.

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CJ Anderson with a big run. 28 yards to CAR 37

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Siemian scrambles right tackle to CAR 29 for 8 yards

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Andy Janovich with a wide open running touchdown! 28 yards. Extra point is good! 7-7 tied game  

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Cam Newton runs it in from the DEN 2 for a touchdown. 14-7 Panthers with 3:01 left in the half.

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Broncos forced to punt shortly after the 2 minute warning. Dixon punts 44 yards to CAR 28.

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The Panthers end the half with a 44-yard field goal attempt. 17-7 Panthers lead at halftime. 

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The Panthers have the ball to open the 2nd half

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The Broncos defense stop the Panthers short of the first down on a 3rd and 1 at CAR 44. Panthers forced to punt.

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Siemian pass short left to Thomas to DEN 43 for 23 yards.

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Another interception for Siemian in pass intended for Sanders at CAR 10.

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Nice sack by Ware – forcing the Panthers to punt. 

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It’s a 3 and out for the Broncos with 5:45 left in the 3rd. Dixon punts 54 yard to CAR 31 – Panthers run it up to CAR 39.

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Despite appearing shaken up, Newton is back in the game. 

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PENALTY on Panthers, Face Mask (15 Yards). Making it a 3rd and 25. Panthers false start makes it 3rd and 30 at CAR 19. Newton throws for 13
yards – but forced to punt. 

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Penalty on Panthers, Face Mask (15 Yards). Making it a 3rd and 25. Panthers false start makes it 3rd and 30 at CAR 19. Newton throws for 13
yards – but forced to punt. 

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Siemian scrambles right end at DEN 39 for 11 yards.

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Siemian squezes it in – pass short left to Virgil Green to 50 for 13 yards

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CJ Anderson touchdown! Short pass from Siemian for 25-yards. 17-14 Panthers with 14:50 left in the game. 

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Interception! The Broncos have the ball back. 

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Siemian pass short left to Sanders to CAR 1 for 7 yards

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Panthers challenge and win the challenge. 4th and a half yard at the 1

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Siemian runs it and gets a 1st down. It’s 1st and goal inside the 1

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Tocuhdown CJ Anderson! 

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The Broncos have the lead for the first time. 21-17 Broncos with 9:26 in the game

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Newton’s pass incomplete on 3rd and 5 at DEN 18. Panthers go for a 36-yard field goal. 21-20 Broncos with 4:25 left in the game.

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Siemian sacked at DEN 18 for -10 yards. Broncos forced to punt. 

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It’s the Panthers ball with 3:06 left in the game. 

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Sack! for -5 yards by Davis and Ware

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Von Miller sack! Newton is sacked by Von at the CAR 29 for -6 yards on 3rd and 15

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Thanks to hands to the face penalty on Chris Harris Jr. – Panthers get automatic 1st down 

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Panthers use last timeout on 3rd and 5 at CAR 39 with 1:19 left

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Darian Stewart hits Newton hard. Knocks him down and its a flag. Newton gets intential grounding. Penalties offset

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Panthers miss 50-yard field goal attempt

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Broncos win! 21-20

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