KUSA- Emmanuel Sanders blew the doors off Sports Authority Field Saturday night -- erupting for 128 yards and two touchdowns, during his Broncos coming out party and an eventual,18-17, loss to the Texans.
Highlighted by a 67-yard scoring catch, the former Steeler made five catches in the first half and electrified the crowd with his breakaway speed.
Montee Ball also returned to the Denver offense, making his first appearance since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on August 4th. The runningback looked to be in mid-season form, helping lead the Broncos on a 61-yard scoring drive to open the contest.
Montee Ball returns after appendectomy
Ball finished with four carries for 13 yards and four catches for 21 yards, touching the ball on eight of the first 13 offensive plays for the Broncos.
Peyton Manning opened the game 6-6 for 44 yards, and finished the first half and the contest, 21-27, for 243 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Manning also received his first "taunting" penalty of his career, after he exchanged words with Texans safety D.J, Swearinger following his second touchdown pass to Sanders in the first half.
Swearinger was penalized just plays before for hitting Wes Welker on a route over the middle, which ended the night and caused a concussion for the Broncos wide receiver.
"I was obviously concerned about (Welker]," said Manning. If you're going to get a penalty, that's a good time to do it (near end of the half)."
Brock Osweiler finished the night 4/11 for 43 yards, accompanied by 17 rushing yards with an interception in an underwhelming performance compared to Week 2 against San Francisco.
Third-string quarterback Zac Dysert did not play in the contest.
Rookie Juwan Thompson led the team in rushing with four carries for 43 yards. The undrafted rookie free agent out of Duke, has impressed in each game so far this preseason and is likely to make the 53-man roster.
Defensively, Von Miller saw his first game action since tearing his ACL against the Texans last season. The 2011 first-round pick deflected a pass in his only series on the night, and possibly his only series of the preseason.
Denver held a 17-10 lead until the final minute of the 4th quarter. Pitt Rookie, Tom Savage, led the Texans on a 9 play, 74-yard game-winning drive that culminated in a 31-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Griffen. Savage was 5/6 passing on the drive for all 74 yards.
Trailing 17-16, Houston decided to go for two and the win. Savage connected with Travis Labhart for the two-point-conversion, and potentially a roster spot for the undrafted rookie out of Texas A&M.
Texans starting quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick finished the game 10/17 for 80 yards.
Starting Houston runningback, Arian Foster did not play due to injury.
The Broncos will wrap up the preseason on Thursday in Dallas against the Cowboys.
Broncos Quick Stats:
P. Manning 21/27, 243 yards, 2 TD's, 1 INT
E. Sanders 5 catches, 128 yards, 2 TD's
J. Thompson 4 carries, 33 yards
R. Hillman 7 carries, 24 yards
B. Roby 4 tackles
B. Marshall 4 tackles
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