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Teddy's time? Bridgewater shines in Broncos' victory over Seahawks

Bridgewater grabbed the QB competition lead away from Lock with two touchdowns in two series. The key was a fourth-down, 35-yard completion to Jeudy.

SEATTLE — This was not going to be won by default, as so many of the Broncos’ quarterback competitions have been in the past.

Teddy Bridgewater had to win it. Seemingly trailing Drew Lock entering the Broncos’ second preseason game here Saturday night against the Seattle Seahawks, Bridgewater not only re-took the lead, but perhaps stole the job for good.

Bridgewater started with the mostly No. 1 offense and engineered two drives. Both resulted in touchdowns and the Broncos went on to clobber the Seattle Seahawks, 30-3 in the preseason game on a comfortable late-August night at Lumen Field.

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said he is close to making a decision on his starting quarterback.

Credit: 9NEWS

"I am because the calendar is closing in on us,'' Fangio said. "It won't be tomorrow. The earliest it would be would be early next week, or we would let it go another week. Because these guys, both of them, Drew and Teddy have done well, as you guys have seen and they've made it a hard decision.

"We'll give it thorough thought. We've been discussing it with the coaches, with George (Paton, the general manager) all along. We'll continue to do that."

The Seahawks played a handful of defensive starters but most of their top players, including quarterback Russell Wilson, didn’t play.\

> Video above: Rod Mackey 1-on-1 with Teddy Bridgewater after Broncos blast the Seahawks.

The Broncos had 9 of their 11 defensive starters play two shutout series and 9 of their 11 offensive starters played during Denver's two touchdown drives. One of thoser starters may well become Bridgewater. (Only Von Miller and Josey Jewell on defense, and Courtland Sutton and Melvin Gordon III on offense were the starters who didn't play. Calvin Anderson started at right tackle while his chief competitor Bobby Massie lined up with the second team).

The first drive for Bridgewater was set up by a Justin Simmons interception against Seahawks' reserve quarterback Alex McGough, giving Denver the ball at the Seattle 45. Simmons, the Broncos' safety on a $15.25 million-a-year contract that is now the second-richest among NFL safeties behind Seattle's Jamal Adams, had three interceptions during a training camp practice last week.

On third down, Bridgewater underthrew KJ Hamler streaking down the right sideline but Fangio gave him another chance to convert on fourth-and-5 from the Seattle 40.

Despite heavy pass pressure from the outside edges, Bridgewater stepped up in the pocket and drilled a 35-yard completion to Jerry Jeudy who was cutting across the middle.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos players, including Diontae Spencer (11), Courtland Sutton (14) and Tim Patrick (81) run out of the tunnel before an NFL preseason football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)

"You have the clock in your head and you sense the pocket,'' Bridgewater said. "I like to tell the tackles, I like when you force the defensive ends to do certain things and I'll just step up in the pocket and create a lane so I can escape or give myself more time to pass the ball down the field.

"Jerry did a great job of winning his route against man coverage. The offensive line did a great job protecting and we were able to convert."

First and goal at the 5. On third and goal from the 2, Bridgewater slipped a pass to Hamler for a touchdown.

The second drive was more difficult as the Broncos started at their own 13. Bridgewater methodically moved the Broncos with his biggest completion a 22-yard strike to tight end Eric Saubert to set up first and goal from 1. A fumble by running back Javonte Williams was recovered by Broncos’ left guard Dalton Risner for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

It was a 16-play drive that took nearly 10 minutes of game clock. Classic Teddy.

“Teddy played very well there—moved the ball, couple really nice throws, managed the pocket well, stepped up,'' Broncos head coach Vic Fangio told 9News' sideline reporter Rod Mackey at halftime. "I thought he looked really good.”

Bridgewater came off the bench last week at Minnesota and followed Lock’s terrific start with a field goal and touchdown drive. In terms of the QB competition, that’s climbing out of a hole.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos outside linebacker Bradley Chubb (55) greets strong safety Kareem Jackson (22) before an NFL preseason football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)

In two preseason games, Bridgewater had four series that resulted in three touchdowns and a field goal. And only an illegal hands to the face penalty prevented him from making it 4 touchdowns in 4 drives. He completed 16 of 19 passes for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions and a 141.0 rating. He can’t do much more to win a competition.

With the Broncos opening the season at the 6-10 New York Giants, at 1-15 Jacksonville and home against the 2-14 New York Jets, will Fangio name Steady Teddy as his starting quarterback.?

"It'd be cool,'' Bridgewater said when asked if he was named the starter. "That's all I'll say. It'd be cool. But other than that I just want to score points. Everyone loves two touchdowns." 

It would appear Bridgewater has done all he can to win it. In Lock's defense, he too has played well enough to earn the starting job.

This week, it was Bridgewater who put Lock in a hole, so to speak, in terms of the QB competition.

"There's always the human nature of comparisons, but you've got to take it play-by-play,'' said Lock, who was the same affable person this week when the game didn't go his way as he was last week when he delivered a dominant performance. "I was glad I got a 2-minute deal in a game rather than just a practice and being able to get points like we did.

"But no Teddy did a good job and then it was about me going out there and making the best out of each play I got."

Credit: AP
Taima, the Seattle Seahawks' live mascot, is held by her handler before an NFL preseason football game against the Denver Broncos, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)

Playing behind the second-team offensive line, Lock had protection issues. He was sacked twice in his first series in the second quarter against the Seahawks, although he did bounce back with a nice 2-minute drive to set up a Brandon McManus’ 39-yard field goal. The key play was a third-and-6 strike from Lock to Diontae Spencer for 19 yards.

Lock was terrific last week in his start at Minnesota, completing 5 of 7 for 151 yards and two touchdowns -- one on an 80-yard beauty to Hamler.

Against Seattle, Lock was 9 of 14 but for only 80 yards. He helped guide the Broncos on a short drive that resulted in a 52-yard McManus field goal to open the second half. McManus later added his third field goal from 33 yards.

Lock was asked how he would handle the next two days awaiting Fangio to make his decision.

"Take a hot shower right after this, wash it all out,'' Lock said with a smile. "Watch the film on the plane home and focus on what I can do to get better."

Of the four compenents to The Great Quarterback Competition, the most impressive may have been Bridgewater's off-the-bench performance last week at Minnesota. Lock put all the pressure on with his terrific start, yet Bridgewater responded by going 7 of 8 with a touchdown pass. Two drives, 10 points.

With the same second- and third-string players Lock played with against Seattle. Bridgewater has repeatedly said he doesn't think about the QB competition, that he only focuses on the next series, the next play. It's not about him, it's about the other 10 guys in the huddle.

His performance last week proved it -- as did his excellent work against Seattle when it appeared during the week that Lock was leading.

"I just want to get in the end zone,'' Bridgewater said. "If we're getting in the end zone that means we're finishing drives. Getting points. And everything else will take care of itself. I can't get caught up in, 'Oh, man, decision has to be made.' It's football to me. It's the same game I grew up playing and had a passion for when I was 4 years old.''

And No. 3 quarterback Brett Rypien came through with an 11-yard touchdown pass to undrafted rookie tight end Shaun Beyer late in the fourth quarter.

Combined with their 33-6 victory against the Vikings last week, the Broncos have now outscored their opponents 63-9 through 8 preseason quarters.

Credit: AP
Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, right, greets Denver Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson during the coin flip during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)

Bronco Bits

No. 5 cornerback Michael Ojemudia suffered a significant knee injury, although Fangio said it didn't appear to be a season-ending ACL. Still, it appears Ojemudia will be sidelined a while. ...

Bradley Chubb, in his first action since undergoing arthroscopic ankle surgery in mid-May, sacked Seattle quarterback Alex McGough in the second series. "I saw it was a play-action run and I wanted to come inside real quick,'' Chubb said. "I kind of stumbled at first and I saw him holding the ball long and I wanted to keep fighting, keep fighting and got there. It felt good because going through the surgery this offseason to get back to that full form it feels good to get my hands around the quarterback and start the streak off." ...

Chubb had one sack but seventh-round rookie Jonathon Cooper had two. It's incredible how far Cooper has come not only because he's a rookie, but because he missed the summer OTAs and minicamps to recover from mutliple heart ablation procedures. "I'm never going to say I doubted myself,'' Cooper said. "I knew what I was capable of. I didn't know the journey to get here would be so hard. But I have confidence in myself and just want to get out there and play the best I can." ...

While Cooper may have won the No. 4 outside linebacker job behind Von Miller, Chubb and Malik Reed, DeShaun Williams might have clinched a backup defensive line spot with an interception of a screen pass and a fumble recovery with a 5 yard return. "That last preseason game if they tell me I made the 53 (man roster), I'll probably break down,'' Williams said. 'Because that would be the first time ever that I made the 53."

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