ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Once players from both the Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills let President Trump know they are free to, like or not, disagree with the President, it was time to play football.
The Broncos and Bills were tied, 13-13, at halftime on a sweltering Sunday afternoon in late-September at New Era Field.
Multiple players on both sides kneeled during the National Anthem as a demonstration of protest against Trump’s remarks Friday during a rally in Alabama.
Both sides then put the potential distraction behind them and played a competitive first half.
The first quarter went pretty much as expected with the Broncos taking a 3-0 lead against a bend-but-don’t-break Bills’ defense while Buffalo’s offense was shut down by the Denver D.
Brandon McManus’ 38-yard field goal with 49 seconds left in the quarter accounted for the only scoring. The Bills had zero first downs and just 10 total yards in the quarter.
Changing ends at the break seemed to ignite both offenses. On the first possession of the second quarter, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor had two, 28-yard pass completions to set up a touchdown drive. The first was on a short crossing pattern to a wide-open Jordan Matthews. The second occurred while Taylor was hit by Broncos’ outside linebacker Shaq Barrett. Taylor got enough of the throw down to Kaelin Clay, who was sitting in a soft part of the Broncos’ zone.
The Bills finished the drive when a deflected pass in the end zone wound up in the arms of receiver Andre Holmes for a 2-yard touchdown reception. It was 7-3 Bills but not for long.
The Broncos answered on their next drive thanks to the strong rushing of C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles between two unnecessary roughness penalties against the Bills’ defense.
Anderson broke out for a 32-yard run and as he was well out of bounds, he got shoved down by Buffalo rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White. The run and tack-on penalty put the ball at the Buffalo 25. Then Buffalo’s Jerry Hughes was flagged for roughing Broncos’ quarterback Trevor Siemian on a short pass attempt, setting up first down at the 12.
On the next play, Charles scooted in for his first touchdown as a Bronco. It was 10-7 Broncos.
The Bills’ Steve Hauschka tied it, 10-10 with a 49-yard field goal. McManus gave the Broncos another lead, 13-10 with a field goal from 35 yards. And then Hauschka answered in the final seconds with a 55-yard field goal to tie it, 13-13.
Siemian played a good first half, completing 15 of 22 for 154 yards. Taylor was 14 of 18 for 139 yards.