Early on in training camp, the veteran quarterback’s new Denver Broncos coach, Sean Payton, came out strongly in support of him—possibly a bit too strongly.
Russell Wilson responded to his coach’s faith in him with a strong effort after a somewhat sluggish beginning.
The Arizona Cardinals outlasted the Denver Broncos on Friday night to win 18-17 after a late comeback by the Cardinals. Wilson finished a long preseason outing with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy. Wilson, according to Payton, was “sharp,” but he was upset that his squad was unable to hold on for the victory.
“Regardless if it is a preseason game or a regular season game, you just can’t stand losing,” Payton said. “Especially in that fashion.”
David Blough, the third-string quarterback for the Cardinals, started the winning drive and connected with Brian Cobbs for an 18-yard touchdown throw with two seconds remaining to cut the deficit to 17-16. When Emari Demercado pushed the crowd and landed in the end zone, Arizona subsequently successfully completed its 2-point attempt.
“That’s always special,” Blough said. “That’s why we play the game.”
Wilson, who was on the field for the majority of the first half, completed 7 of 13 throws for 93 yards while taking a number of hard hits, including a sack by Dennis Gardeck. With 6:54 remaining in the second quarter, the nine-time Pro Bowl pick found a wide-open Jeudy across the middle for a score on fourth down, capping off a successful effort. The quarterback didn’t have much time to throw, especially in the first quarter.
“I thought it was really good how we responded after the first drive,” Wilson said. “We really responded, getting the ball moving.”
Wilson played in his first game action since Sean Payton, the first-year coach of the Denver Broncos, caused controversy by defending his quarterback by accusing Nathaniel Hackett of having “one of the worst coaching jobs in the NFL” and of having “20 dirty hands” involved in Wilson’s career-worst season in 2022.
Later, Payton expressed contrition for his remarks.
Just before halftime, Elliott Fry kicked a 55-yard field goal to give the Broncos a 10-0 advantage.
After being hired in the offseason to take over for Kliff Kingsbury as head coach of Arizona, Jonathan Gannon earned the victory in his first game of the preseason. He served as the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive coordinator for the previous two seasons.
“The most important thing is the good, the bad and the ugly — we’ve got to learn from it,” Gannon said. “We’ve got to clean up some mistakes, all three phases. We’ve got to get a little better from this tape. Saying that, I liked the way they competed. They ran well, hit well, and we had some things we executed down the stretch.”
Colt McCoy of Arizona played only one series, going 4 of 4 for 17 yards in the first one. The 36-year-old is anticipated to start for the team until Kyler Murray makes a full recovery from his knee injury.
Especially when the starters entered the game early, Gannon stated he was happy with his team’s defense. Several players, like Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons, were manning unfamiliar positions. Simmons transitioned from safety to linebacker, while Collins shifted to a more active edge rushing position.
“We were letting loose,” Collins said. “Didn’t really try to do anything too fancy. Just let us go and see how we rushed for the first time. I thought it went well.”
With 12:25 remaining, rookie Clayton Tune connected with Kaden Davis on a 7-yard touchdown throw to knot the score at 10-all. With 1:30 left, Jaleel McLaughlin of Denver scored on a 4-yard run to give the Broncos a 17-10 lead.
Previously, the 59-year-old Payton led the New Orleans Saints to a Super Bowl victory in 2009 while serving as their head coach for 15 seasons.
Essang Bassey of Denver and Antonio Hamilton Sr. of Arizona both recorded interceptions. Jarrett Stidham, a backup quarterback for the Broncos, completed 5 of 15 passes for 50 yards and one interception.