Picks, broken coverage put Cardinals in big hole at half vs. Broncos
GLENDALE, Ariz. — It didn’t take long for one of two spiraling NFL teams to assert itself on Thursday Night Football.
The Denver Broncos’ (3-4) defense got off to the fine start promised earlier in the week by star linebacker Von Miller, picking off Arizona Cardinals rookie Josh Rosen twice and returning them for touchdowns.
And on the other side of the ball, Arizona’s defense let broken plays define a first half that saw the Cardinals trail 35-3 at State Farm Stadium.
Arizona’s first series went like so: A David Johnson run for no gain, a timeout called with the play-clock winding and then a 2nd-and-1o interception as Denver’s Todd Davis picked off a tipped Rosen pass and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown.
The Cardinals offense wasn’t alone in getting snake-bit. Putting Denver ahead 14-0, Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders took a handoff from quarterback Case Keenum on a wide sweep and loaded up a 28-yard touchdown pass to fellow receiver Courtland Sutton, who made a diving grab in the end zone after sneaking behind a fooled Arizona secondary.
And like the first two touchdowns, the second two came on obvious breakdowns by the Cardinals.
Denver defensive back Chris Harris intercepted a second Rosen pass intended for J.J. Nelson and returned it 53 yards for a score with 2:13 left in the first quarter. Four game minutes later, Keenum hit Sanders for a 64-yard touchdown when backup safety Rudy Ford — in for injured starter Tre Boston — bit on an underneath route.
That still left 14:40 to play in the half.
The Broncos used a lengthy drive to eat up the final seven minutes of the second quarter, capping a 70-yard drive with Royce Freeman touchdown run from the 1-yard line.
Arizona’s only score came on a 61-yard drive in the first quarter that ended on a 43-yard Phil Dawson field goal.