Broncos unveil aerial attack in win over Bengals

Denver found an aerial attack on Sunday, with Trevor Siemian tossing four touchdowns to lead the Broncos (3-0) to a 29-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals (1-2). Here's what we learned:

  1. Cincinnati's defense keyed on C.J. Anderson and the ground game, forcing Siemian to make tough intermediate and downfield throws for the first time this season. After watching Siemian attempt fewer passes of 20 or more yards than any quarterback through two games, the Broncos made a concerted effort to get the ball to Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas with a chance to make plays. Siemian obliged, dialing up chain-moving throws to Sanders to go with touchdown bombs of 41 and 55 yards for Sanders and Thomas, respectively.
  1. Jeremy Hill gashed the heart of Denver's defense for more rushing yards on the opening drive (65) than the Bengals had managed in either of the first two games. With the exception of a series of contested catches by A.J. Green, the offense went to sleep thereafter. A third-down drop by Green came back to haunt Cincinnati when Siemian responded to Andy Dalton's 15-play field-goal drive with consecutive touchdown drives to pull away late in the fourth quarter.
  1. Broncos edge rusher Shane Ray, last year's first-round draft pick, was already playing more snaps per game than veteran DeMarcus Ware. With Ware sidelined, Ray stayed on the field in obvious pass-rushing situations, tallying a career-high three sacks -- including back-to-back sacks in a two-play sequence late in the third quarter. In the last five games going back to the 2015 playoffs, the Broncos have held Tom Brady, Cam Newton (twice), Andrew Luck and Dalton to a collective passer rating under 70.0.
  1. Veteran cornerback Adam Jones was in the middle of the action. His fumble on a punt return led directly to Denver's first touchdown, when Sanders burned Jones in coverage. He came back to force a fumble on Demaryius Thomas late in the third quarter of 16-14 game, but the Bengals were unable to capitalize.
  1. Cincinnati's offense sorely needs the big-play ability of Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert, who resumed practicing last week. While Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu are helping to resurrect the passing attacks in Detroit and Atlanta, Dalton has become overly reliant upon Green rather than spreading the ball around. The Bengals host the Dolphins on Thursday before traveling to Dallas and New England in the ensuing weeks.
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