Two-Second Takeover: Cards Edge Broncos

(AP Photo/Matt York)

The Arizona Cardinals opened their 2023 pre-season schedule in dramatic fashion, beating the Denver Broncos 18-17 in the closing seconds Friday night at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.

Arizona reserve quarterback David Blough connected with Brian Cobbs on an 18-yard touchdown in the front corner of the end zone with two seconds to play, pulling the Cards to within 17-16.

Then first-year head coach Jonathan Gannon elected to go for two and when rookie running back Emari Demercado carried a Bronco defender into the end zone, Arizona secured the win.

“I liked how they competed,” Gannon said after the game. “We had some things that we executed down the stretch and that’s the difference between winning and losing…I was proud how they fought and they battled.”

Denver’s defense made the first big play of the night when Essang Bassey stepped in front of a Clayton Tune pass in Bronco territory and returned it 31 yards. However, the Arizona defense would stiffen and new Denver kicker Brett Maher’s 47-yard field goal would sail wide right, keeping the game scoreless late in the first quarter.

The Cards’ defense turned away Denver again on their next offensive possession and, again, Maher missed wide right, this time from 50.

Arizona’s first drive of the second quarter showed promise after Tune connected with Andre Baccellia for a 21-yard connection across the middle. However, the game would remain scoreless after Matt Prater’s 53-yard field goal missed wide left.

Denver would finally break the ice midway through the second quarter.

After dropping an easy first down, and possible touchdown on the previous play, wide receiver Jerry Jeudy atoned in a big way, breaking free across the middle and sprinting into the end zone from 21 yards out on fourth and five on a pretty throw from Russell Wilson.

Denver got one more chance to extend their lead before halftime, taking over at the Arizona 45 with just over a minute to play. The Broncos got close enough for Elliott Fry to drill a 55-yard field goal to make a 10-0 game going into the locker room.

Colt McCoy started under center, finishing 4-4 for 17 yard. Tune played the majority of the first half, going 6-13 for 53 yards. He was intercepted once. 

The Cards got on the board midway through the third quarter. Prater’s 38-yard field goal capped a 10-play, 48-yard drive to trim the lead to 10-3.

Tune, who finished 13-23 for 135 yards, one touchdown, and the afore mentioned interception, appeared more comfortable in the second half and the hosts pulled even after he found wide receiver Kaden Davis on a pretty post route. The drive covered 10 plays, 58 yards.

Denver’s offense would finally come alive late in the fourth quarter, retaking the lead on Jaleel McLaughlin’s four-yard touchdown run setting up Blough’s late-game hero