CINCINNATI — The Broncos’ defense was back in force, led by Super Bowl MVP Von Miller.
The offense has gifted receivers with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. C.J. Anderson was there to run the ball.
Could they even come close to replacing Peyton Manning? That was Denver’s overriding question heading into the season. In his first road game, Trevor Siemian answered emphatically and impressively.
Siemian had the best game by a Broncos quarterback in two years — since Manning was running the show — as Denver stayed unbeaten with a 29-17 win over the Bengals on Sunday. He threw four touchdown passes — Manning was the last Bronco to do that — and passed for 312 yards.
Best of all, he was nearly perfect under the most intense pressure, going completing 11 of 12 passes while leading Denver (3-0) to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Yeah, call it Manning-esque.
“Obviously going in, nobody really knew about him,” said Sanders, who caught the first two touchdowns. “Now everybody’s starting to talk about him.”
On a team that aspires to another Super Bowl season, Siemian and his 132.1 passer rating on Sunday sure looked like a perfect fit as the missing piece.
“That’s what we’ve been waiting for, man,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “That’s a huge step forward for our team to do that on the road against a playoff team.”
For the Bengals (1-2), it was another ominous afternoon. The defending AFC North champions are out of sync on both offense and defense. They’re 1-2 for the first time in five years. They’re already two games off the pace in their division.
“We still have a lot of stuff to clean up,” receiver A.J. Green said. “We’re still trying to find ourselves.”
Some takeaways from the Broncos’ win:
SIEMIAN’S IMPRESSIVE START: Siemian, a seventh-round pick last season, is the seventh Broncos quarterback to win his first three starts — Brock Osweiler also did it last season. The club record is a 6-0 start, by Craig Morton in 1977 and Kyle Orton in 2009. Coach Gary Kubiak showed faith in Siemian by letting him air it out when the Bengals clamped down on Denver’s running game. He finished 23 of 35, including touchdowns of 41 and 55 yards.
“Honestly, there’s nothing to tell Trevor,” Sanders said. “I know he’s a young quarterback, but he doesn’t act like it. He’s always confident and collected.
“He’s the one who wants to throw the ball. He’s the one who wants to deliver that pass. Kubiak put a lot of faith in him, and he delivered.”
OH THAT DENVER D: Once Siemian led them to the lead, the Broncos took care of Andy Dalton, sacking him twice in the fourth quarter. Dalton was 21 of 31 overall for 206 yards, although 92 of those yards came when the Broncos started allowing short completions to drain the clock.
“Once we get up, its sacks and interceptions time,” Harris said. “We feel that when we get up by two touchdowns, it’s over for that team.”
PICKING ON PACMAN: The Broncos went after Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones, having their receivers use double moves that worked for big plays . Emmanuel Sanders made two moves to spring past Jones for a 41-yard TD catch. With Jones was on the sideline with cramps, Demaryius Thomas put a double move on backup Chris Lewis-Harris for a clinching 55-yard TD catch.
OUT-OF-BALANCE OFFENSE: The Bengals could barely run the ball in the first two games. They made that the point of emphasis and got a 50-yard run from Jeremy Hill on the opening drive. After that, Denver clamped down. Hill finished with 97 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
“A lot of stuff we wish we could have back,” Hill said. “We have a ways to go as far as the running game, and it starts with me.”
NOT-SO-SWEET HOME: The Bengals host the Dolphins on Thursday night, although the home field hasn’t been much of an advantage for them lately. They lost a first-round playoff game to Pittsburgh at Paul Brown Stadium last season, and now their season opener. Cincinnati is only 6-4 in its past 10 home games.