Chad Kelly outplays Paxton Lynch, Broncos fall to Vikings, 42-28, in preseason opener

DENVER — Broncos third-string quarterback Chad Kelly helped lead a comeback in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough as the Broncos fell to the Minnesota Vikings, 42-28, at Broncos Stadium on Saturday night.

The attempted comeback aside, the game made it clear the Broncos still have some work to do.

Things started rough immediately for new Broncos quarterback Case Keenum as he took on his former team.

Keenum’s only completion was a five-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas and the offense opened up with a pair of three-and-outs.

The first team defense wasn’t shining either.

The defense, who was without superstar Von Miller, allowed Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins to go 4-for-4 passing for 42 yards and a touchdown on the Vikings’ first series as Minnesota took the 7-0 lead.

After the two series, Paxton Lynch replaced Keenum at quarterback. Keenum said that even though he wanted more playing time, it was a great test for the offense.

“I’ll be honest, I wanted one series with a [few] more plays and score a touchdown,” Keenum said during the television broadcast. “This is great test. [Minnesota was] one of the top defenses in the league last year so we knew we had our work cut out for us.”

Lynch battled it out with former Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian, who took over for the Vikings. And, much like last season in Denver, there was a clear winner.

Lynch threw an interception on his first pass. Siemian took advantage of the great field position and led the Vikings to the end zone to make it 14-0.

The Broncos finally got on the board late in the second quarter following a Siemian interception. Royce Freeman made the touchdown with a 23-yard run and the Broncos’ first first down of the game.

The celebration didn’t last long as Siemian threw a 78-yard touchdown to Roc Thomas to make it 24-7.

The Broncos would get on the board one more time before halftime thanks to a 78-yard punt return by Isaiah McKenzie, a player who had six fumbles last season.

That would make it 24-14 at halftime. The Broncos finished the half with just 61 total yards and one first down. A clear sign that the Broncos need some work.

But the game really picked up when third-string quarterback Chad Kelly replaced Lynch in the second half and Kyle Sloter came in at quarterback for the Vikings.

Sloter played for the Broncos last preseason before being released and signing with the Vikings.

Kelly was able to fire up the fans and throw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Matt LaCosse to make the score 27-21.

Kelly continued to outplay Lynch as he got his second touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter.

Kelly found former University of Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay to give the Broncos their first lead of the game. It was 28-27 as the crowd at Broncos Stadium chanted Kelly’s name.

The lead didn’t last long as Sloter and the Vikings would score another touchdown and a two-point conversion to make it 35-28. Sloter would get one more touchdown in his home state for good measure.

At the end of the Broncos first preseason game, the struggles of the first team were clear, but again, it’s just the first preseason game.

“We didn’t start well, obviously. Defensively, we didn’t stop the run early. Offensively, we had a nice first-down play and second play we jumped offsides—self-inflicted wounds,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said after the game. “We didn’t start fast and they did.”

And although Kelly outplayed Lynch, Joseph made it clear he isn’t ready to give up on Lynch quite yet.

“We’ll see. We’ll watch the tape and see where we are,” Joseph said when asked if Kelly would get second-team reps at practice. “Chad has played well. He played well tonight, outside of the one interception, which led to a score for those guys. He is a guy that plays with a lot of confidence. That’s a good deal.”

“Obviously, Case is the starter, so that’s my main concern,” Joseph added.

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