Broncos fall to Cardinals
By ARNIE STAPLETON
DENVER -- The Denver Broncos' wildest of offseasons came to an end Thursday night when Arizona's Ryan Lindley threw for two touchdowns in a 32-24 victory at Denver.
"That's the true measure of a quarterback," Lindley said of the win, which he secured with a fourth-quarter rally, one he hopes lands him on the Cardinals' 53-man roster as their third QB.
The Broncos were just glad to get through this one relatively intact, although promising rookie linebacker Lerentee McCray did sprain his right ankle and had to be helped from the field.
Just another speed bump on this uneven ride the Broncos have been on since their playoff pratfall against Baltimore in January. Now, they get to put the turmoil of the offseason aside and see if they can use all this adversity to drive them to great heights, like so many expect.
"What tumult?" Broncos coach John Fox asked incredulously. "This job is tumult."
Well, there was losing Elvis Dumervil to the Ravens in free agency after a fax foul-up on his renegotiated contract, followed by John Elway's top two assistants getting suspended for drunken driving arrests; All-Pro linebacker Von Miller's six-game suspension; and a rash of injuries to key players such as Champ Bailey.
"I enjoyed the offseason," Fox insisted. "Everybody goes through the same things. We're done with the offseason and we're getting ready to start the regular season."
The Broncos head into next week's NFL Kickoff against defending champion Baltimore -- with gigantic banners of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco hanging from their stadium next to those of Peyton Manning, no less -- with Dumervil on the other side and Miller sidelined.
Together, they accounted for 29.5 of Denver's league-leading 52 sacks last season.
How the Broncos make up for their absences will go a long way in determining if Miller's Super Bowl guarantee he made back in February was bold or blather.
The Broncos have some tough choices when filling out their 53-man roster because several players they'd like to keep are injured, and they're already without their defensive superstar until mid-October.
Before spraining his right ankle, McCray made a strong case for extending Denver's streak to a full decade in which at least one undrafted player made the 53-man roster in Week 1. McCray started at Miller's strong side spot and had a sack and a forced fumble in the first half.
Lindley threw a 55-yard TD pass to Jaron Brown on the play after McCray was helped off the field in the third quarter.
The Broncos responded with Lance Ball's 69-yard gain on a screen and rookie Zac Dysert's keeper from 7 yards that put Denver back on top, 24-17.
Denver tight end Jake O'Connell's second fumble of the night, however, led to Mike Thomas' 13-yard TD catch from Lindley, whose 2-point conversion pass to Andre Ellington gave Arizona its first lead at 25-24 with less than 6 minutes remaining.
Stepfan Taylor added a 15-yard TD run with 1:05 left.
Miller was among Broncos starters who didn't play but went through a workout 3.5 hours before kickoff. Also in that group was rookie running back Montee Ball. Absent was Ronnie Hillman, who had fumbles that were returned for touchdowns in back-to-back games.
Hillman started for Denver and got the first two carries, gaining 14 yards, before Jeremiah Johnson took over and capped the opening drive with a 9-yard burst up the middle.
Brock Osweiler's 45-yard pass to Gerell Robinson set up a 27-yard field goal by Matt Prater before the Cardinals countered with Ryan Williams' 1-yard TD run and Jay Feely's 52-yarder to knot the score at 10 at halftime.
Robinson caught five passes for 99 yards, including a 25-yard TD pass from Dysert.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Pat White set up one touchdown with a 66-yard completion and ran 7 yards for another TD to help the Washington Redskins beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-12.
Washington (4-0) finished off an unbeaten preseason for the first time in 28 years Thursday night.
Coach Mike Shanahan rested most of his starters, including Robert Griffin III, who worked out at Raymond James Stadium for about 30 minutes before walking off the field with Dr. James Andrews. Andrews was in town to examine the quarterback's surgically repaired right knee.
Griffin, who's been practicing without any reported setbacks, participated in the coin toss as a Redskins captain and watched the game from the sideline. He later tweeted he was cleared to play, but Shanahan hedged after the game.
BENGALS 27, COLTS 10
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Andy Dalton led the Bengals to a touchdown in his only drive, and Josh Johnson threw for another in his bid to win the backup job and Cincinnati ended the preseason with a victory over Indianapolis.
The Bengals (3-1) played most of their starters on offense and defense for one series only. Dalton's brief appearance ended in Giovani Bernard's 1-yard touchdown run.
The Colts (2-2) rested most of their starters, including quarterback Andrew Luck. He and Dalton joked with each other on the field before the game.
Matt Hasselbeck started for Indianapolis and led a 12-play drive to a field goal against most of the Bengals starters.
JETS 27, EAGLES 20
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Matt Simms, competing for the Jets' No. 3 quarterback job, led four scoring drives and Kahlil Bell had two touchdown runs and New York beat Philadelphia.
With the Jets' quarterback competition still uncertain, Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez didn't play. But Simms certainly showed he might deserve to stick around.
The son of former Giants star Phil Simms, who had his share of big games against the Eagles, was 33 of 44 for 285 yards for the Jets (3-1).
Both Rex Ryan and the Eagles' Chip Kelly rested their starters, which meant Michael Vick also sat this one out on Philadelphia's sideline. Vick won the Eagles' competition last week, earning the job ahead of Nick Foles.
Foles was 6 of 17 for 63 yards in two quarters for the Eagles (2-2) before being replaced by Matt Barkley.
PATRIOTS 28, GIANTS 20
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Tim Tebow threw two touchdown passes and one interception and New England beat New York.
In an up-and-down performance in both teams' last preseason game, Tebow had a 52-yard touchdown pass and a 13-yard run. He was 6 for 11 for 91 yards. He also gained 30 yards on six carries for the Patriots (3-1).
The third-string quarterback also was sacked four times. But he ended his game with a 9-yard touchdown pass with 6 seconds left.
LIONS 35, BILLS 13
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Matt Leinart struggled in his debut for quarterback-depleted Buffalo, which closed the preseason with a loss to Detroit.
Looking like someone who's had just three days practice, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner went 3 for 10 for 11 yards and two interceptions before being yanked after five possessions. That represents a major concern for Buffalo (2-2), which scrambled to sign the 2006 first-round draft pick Sunday after losing its top two quarterbacks to injury.
First-round draft pick EJ Manuel is recovering from a left knee injury, while veteran Kevin Kolb is out indefinitely with a concussion.
Lions second- and third-string quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Kellen Moore threw two touchdown passes each in helping Detroit (3-1) build a 35-3 lead at the half.
VIKINGS 24, TITANS 23
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Jake Locker led the Titans to a field goal and Tennessee played many of its offensive starters in the exhibition finale.
Locker went 3 for 5 for 31 yards in a rare bit of action for a starting quarterback in the final preseason game for the Titans (1-3).
Hoping to avoid a spot on the practice squad, quarterback Rusty Smith completed 13 of 21 passes for 178 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Marcus Sherels returned a kick 109 yards for a touchdown and intercepted a pass in a last-ditch effort to make the team for the Vikings (1-3).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Ted Ginn Jr. is showing he has something left to offer Carolina, catching five passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns to lift the Panthers (3-1) over Pittsburgh.
In a game devoid of star power, Derek Anderson completed 10 of 15 passes for 220 yards, including TD strikes of 87 and 35 yards to Ginn, who's looking to find a home after being run out of Miami and San Francisco.
Rookie quarterback Landry Jones played the entire game for the Steelers (0-4), completing 16 of 35 passes for 189 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
DOLPHINS 24, SAINTS 21
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) -- Drew Brees wore a uniform -- and even eye black -- but never played. Ryan Tannehill also watched from the sideline, laughing at the Kiss Cam when it showed during a timeout on the scoreboard video screen.
The final preseason game for the Saints and Dolphins was for reserves, and Miami third-string quarterback Pat Devlin led his team to a victory.
Devlin threw for 259 yards, including a 56-yard pass to Marvin McNutt on fourth-and-4 with 3:02 left for the winning score.
The Saints (3-1) open the season Sept. 8 against Atlanta. The Dolphins (2-3) open at Cleveland the same day.
JAGUARS 20, FALCONS 16
ATLANTA (AP) -- Jordan Todman ran for a touchdown for the second straight week and Mike Kafka threw a fourth-quarter scoring pass to Jeremy Ebert to lift Jacksonville over Atlanta.
Todman, who appeared in only one game in his 2012 rookie season, was trying to take advantage of the void created when Justin Forsett missed the entire preseason with a toe injury. Todman had nine carries for 60 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown run, in his bid to win a backup job behind Maurice Jones-Drew.
Josh Vaughn, trying to win a job as Steven Jackson's backup, had a 65-yard touchdown run for the Falcons (0-4), who finished their second winless preseason in three years.
The Jaguars (1-3) earned their first preseason win.
BROWNS 18, BEARS 16
CHICAGO (AP) -- Brian Hoyer threw for 307 yards and came on down the stretch and Cleveland closed out the preseason with a victory over Chicago.
Hoyer was intercepted twice. But he also led the Browns (3-1) on a 76-yard touchdown drive that made it a one-point game in the fourth quarter.
Punter Spencer Lanning kicked a 40-yard field goal with just over three minutes left following a fumble by Harvey Unga to make it 18-16.
Jordan Palmer dominated the first half for the Bears.
Robbie Gould then missed a 57-yarder wide right with just over a minute left, and the Bears (2-2) lost after leading most of the way.
TEXANS 24, COWBOYS 6
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Case Keenum and T.J. Yates each threw a touchdown pass in their battle for the backup job, and Cierre Wood and Dennis Johnson combined for 187 yards rushing, leading lead Houston past Dallas.
Keenum directed touchdown drives of 87 and 80 yards, the latter capped by a 27-yard touchdown pass to Lestar Jean. Yates, the backup to Matt Schaub the past two seasons, threw a 21-yard scoring pass to Andy Cruse and led another drive to a field goal.
Alex Tanney was under pressure and struggled in his bid get Dallas (2-3) to keep a third quarterback behind Tony Romo and Kyle Orton. He was 17 of 31 for 177 yards with an interception.
Wood had 107 yards rushing, and Johnson had 79 yards and a touchdown for Houston (3-1).
RAMS 24, RAVENS 21
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Bobby Rainey scored his first two touchdowns of the preseason, leading a cluster of backups fighting for jobs on both sides in St. Louis' victory to close the preseason.
Baltimore Ravens star running back Ray Rice watched from home, as did Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco.
The Rams (1-3) avoided their first winless preseason since 2002 on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Austin Davis to Chase Reynolds with 2:40 to go. They clinched it when Drew Thomas intercepted third-stringer Caleb Hanie at the 4 in the final minute.
The Ravens (2-2) open the NFL season next Thursday night at Denver.
SEAHAWKS 22 RAIDERS 6
SEATTLE (AP) -- Tarvaris Jackson led Seattle on three first-half scoring drives, and Terrelle Pryor struggled through his worst performance of the preseason with a chance at earning Oakland's starting quarterback job.
Jackson led the Seahawks (4-0) to a trio of field goals from Steven Hauschka, including kicks of 51 and 56 yards. Jackson got the bulk of time in the first half after Russell Wilson made a brief cameo, leading the Seahawks to their first touchdown on their opening drive.
Hauschka also hit from 22, 43 and 53 yards.
Pryor had turned the Raiders' quarterback situation into a real competition with his performance during the preseason. Matt Flynn sat out Thursday with a sore elbow, and Pryor was given an entire half to try and show he deserved the job. He was lackluster, completing 3 of 8 passes for 31 yards and an interception for Oakland (1-3).
49ERS 41, CHARGERS 6
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Colin Kaepernick threw a touchdown pass to cap his only drive, and San Francisco roughed up San Diego in the exhibition finale for both teams.
Kaepernick faked an inside handoff and then threw a short sidearm pass to Quinton Patton, who deked rookie free agent Marcus Cromartie and completed the 43-yard scoring play.
Coach Jim Harbaugh started the first-team offense of the 49ers (3-1), while Chargers rookie coach Mike McCoy sat his first-team defense.
The Chargers (1-3) had a bad night. Backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst was sacked four times in the first half and third-stringer Brad Sorensen threw two interceptions in the second half.