DENVER | Chicago quarterback Mitch Trubisky and Denver QB Case Keenum feel better about their respective offenses after starting out faster and finally moving the chains Saturday night.
“Scoring points always feels better,” said Keenum, who led two scoring drives in three possessions one week after his dud of a Denver debut.
Trubisky also bounced back from a dismal debut last week by connecting with Trey Burton for his first score of the summer.
“We can find answers in this offense,” said Trubisky, who’s learning first-year coach Matt Nagy’s philosophies. “The playmakers are going to get open. It’s my job to get them the ball.”
Keenum’s new backup Chad Kelly threw another touchdown pass after leapfrogging Paxton Lynch, but it was Bears backup Chase Daniel who had the best night of all.
He led Chicago’s fantastic finish by throwing for a pair of touchdowns in the final five minutes Saturday night to spark Chicago’s come-from-behind 24-23 win.
With the Broncos in control at 23-10, Lynch entered the game to a thunderclap of boos, which only increased through three drives that went nowhere.
“Well, I feel bad for Paxton, but our fans want to win,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. “That’s what it’s about, it’s about passion, I should say. But I feel bad for Paxton. But he has to ignore it and go play. It’s professional football. No one’s going to hold your hand, so he has to go out there and perform.”
Lynch played poorly again.
A week after his 24-yard performance led to his demotion, he threw for just 39 yards on 5-of-11 passing with a pair of sacks.
He nevertheless had the Broncos (0-2) in field goal range when he hit Isaiah McKenzie on a short slant route and the speedy receiver who fumbled six times as a rookie, coughed up the football on second effort at the Chicago 37 and linebacker Isaiah Irving recovered it with 58 seconds left.
The Broncos can only hope McKenzie doesn’t crumble from his latest fumble.
“He’s a good young player, he’s had a good camp and he played well last week, so hopefully it doesn’t set him back,” Joseph said.
Daniel threw a 2-yard TD pass to running back Taquan Mizzell with 4:38 left and then hit tight end Ben Braunecker with 1:53 remaining to tie it. Pat O’Donnell’s extra point gave Chicago (1-2) its first lead.
After a pair of three-and-outs last week, Keenum rebounded from another three-and-out to lead two scoring drives on his final two possessions, finishing 8 for 13 for 78 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Kelly had his second straight strong showing, this one just 48 hours after general manager John Elway indicated he might have to go in search of a veteran backup quarterback if he can’t trust either Kelly or Lynch to come in and win games should Keenum get hurt.
Even though Kelly’s three TDs are the only ones thrown by Denver’s quarterbacks so far, Joseph’s not ready to say he can trust him to be one play away from starting when the regular season begins.
“I can’t speak for two weeks down the road here,” Joseph said, “but right now he’s our backup quarterback.”
Trubisky threw for 90 yards and a touchdown on 9-of-14 passing. He also threw an interception and was tackled by first-round pick Bradley Chubb for a safety after the shotgun snap from the 1 went off his hands.
Trubisky said he’s feeling more and more comfortable in Chicago’s new offense.
“We’re still hiding a bunch of good stuff, too,” Trubisky said. “We’re not showing all of it.”
Kelly completed 7 of 9 passes for 90 yards and capped his first drive of the night with a 16-yard touchdown toss to rookie Courtland Sutton .
Von Miller , who was held out at the last minute a week earlier, made his preseason debut for Denver and played a couple of series. Miller said he wasn’t upset by the decision last week to sit him against the Vikings but said he did want to play.
Bears rookie linebacker Roquan Smith has practiced in pads just once since January, so it wasn’t a surprise he was in street clothes Saturday night. Earlier in the week he became the last member of the 2018 NFL draft class to sign his contract and reported 30 days late.
“The timing wasn’t good,” to play in a game this week, Nagy said.
There was an incredible 293 yards in penalties, many of them of the new helmet-hit variety.
“I’m hopeful it won’t look like that” in the regular season, Joseph said.
Just like last week, Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas weren’t on the sideline for the national anthem. Thomas (wrist) didn’t suit up.
Bears TE Adam Shaheen injured his right ankle on the game’s first drive and LB Leonard Floyd left with a hand injury.
S Will Parks said he avoided a serious knee injury. McKenzie, who had called for a fair catch on a punt, was evaluated for a concussion after Deiondre’ Hall’s personal foul tackle. WR Jordan Leslie left with an injured left hand.
Bears: Host Chiefs on Aug. 25.
Broncos: Visit Washington on Aug. 24.