DENVER (AP) — Backup quarterback Brett Rypien overcame relentless pressure from a J.J. Watt-led Arizona defense, Justin Simmons had two interceptions and the Denver Broncos held off the Cardinals 24-15 on Sunday.
The game featured two backup QBs, but Arizona lost Colt McCoy to a concussion early in the third quarter after he took a hit while diving for a first down. McCoy was intercepted once and his replacement, Trace McSorley, threw two more picks.
Rypien was sacked seven times, including three by Watt, but directed three second-half scoring drives to help the Broncos (4-10) snap a five-game losing streak.
Latavius Murray ran for 130 yards and a touchdown, Marlon Mack also had a rushing TD, and Rypien threw a short scoring pass to Eric Tomlinson as Denver turned a 9-3 deficit into a 24-9 lead.
Subbing for Russell Wilson, who was held out for safety reasons after clearing the concussion protocol, Rypien had 197 yards passing and one interception. McCoy took over for Kyler Murray, who’s out for the season with a torn ACL. McCoy was 13 of 21 for 78 yards and was picked off by Simmons late in the first quarter.
The only offense generated by the Cardinals early on were three field goals by former Bronco Matt Prater. James Conner had a late TD run but a 2-point pass was broken up. The Cardinals (4-10) have lost four straight.
Mack gave the Broncos a 10-9 lead with a 3-yard run with 5:58 remaining in the third quarter. Murray extended the lead to 17-9 with a 10-yard scamper and Rypien’s TD pass sealed the win.
There were 18,423 no-shows for a game between struggling teams with both coaches on the hot seat.
For a good portion of the game, the Broncos had few answers for Watt, who finished with three quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, a pass defensed and a forced fumble.
In addition to Wilson, Denver’s patchwork offense was missing receivers Courtland Sutton and Kendall Hinton (both with pulled hamstrings). The Broncos also lost right guard Quinn Meinerz to an eye injury early in the game.
Wilson wore a hat and a thick jacket as he walked the sideline. He held a play sheet in his hand and frequently consulted with Rypien when the backup — making his his third career start — returned to the sideline.
The first half was a field-goal fest between Prater (good from 45 and 50 yards) and Brandon McManus (good from 52, wide right from 38).
Cardinals: OL Kelvin Beachum was banged up on the same play as McCoy, leaving with a knee/ankle injury before returning.
Broncos: Meinerz held a towel over his right eye as he left the field. Meinerz’s replacement, Tom Compton, later departed with a back injury.