Sun, 24 Jan 2021

In our Broncos Legends series, we're revisiting the careers of some of the most memorable players in franchise history with video highlights and rarely seen photos - and they'll join us to break down their favorite moments as a Bronco and more. Here's a refresher on quarterback Brock Osweiler's time in Denver.

Career overview

In the wake of the historic signing of Peyton Manning in free agency, the Broncos drafted Brock Osweiler in the second round with the luxury of time to develop him as an NFL passer. In his lone season as the starting quarterback at Arizona State, Osweiler completed 63.2 percent of his passing attempts for 4,036 yards and 26 touchdowns during his junior season before declaring for the NFL Draft.

As could be expected, Osweiler saw little playing time during his first three seasons as Manning led the way. His most extensive action during the regular season came during the Broncos' 2013 season as Manning and the offense rewrote NFL record books. Still, even when the Broncos were able to rest Manning late in games, Osweiler threw just 16 passes the whole season. The following season, he attempted 10 passes and threw his first touchdown.

But in 2015, Osweiler found himself suddenly in the spotlight when he replaced Manning during a Week 10 game against Kansas City. Manning, who had suffered a plantar fascia tear, would miss the next six games as he recovered, which meant Osweiler would make his first NFL starts as the team hoped to retain its division and conference lead on the path to the playoffs.

In his starts, Osweiler proved he was up to the task. He and the Broncos won each of his first three games. That included a road win in Chicago in which he threw two touchdowns and zero interceptions, a wild, snowy overtime classic against the Patriots and a 17-3 bruiser against the Chargers in San Diego. The Broncos faltered in the two games that followed with narrow losses to the Raiders and Steelers, but Osweiler and Co. rebounded in Week 16 with a win over the Bengals in overtime.

Osweiler made his final start of 2015 in the team's final regular-season game, as Manning returned to steady the offense against the Chargers after the Broncos turned the ball over on five of their first nine possessions.

Still, Osweiler's stint that season was invaluable for the Broncos' path to Super Bowl 50. Without his contributions, the Broncos likely don't enter the postseason as the top seed in the AFC with home-field advantage for their run to the Super Bowl. And if they instead had to face New England in Foxborough in the AFC Championship, it's hard to decisively say they still would have won.

After that year, Osweiler departed as a free agent, but he later returned in 2017, helping Denver win a Thursday-night game against the Colts on the road after starter Trevor Siemian got hurt.

Career accolades

Super Bowl 50 champion

Stats to know

Broncos stats: 27 games, 11 starts, 283 completions, 477 pass attempts, 3,214 passing yards, 16 touchdown passes, 54 rushes, 114 yards, two rushing touchdowns

Three games to remember

Week 11, 2015 season: Broncos 17, Bears 15

Osweiler's first start couldn't have begun much better. His second pass went for a touchdown, as he found an open Demaryius Thomas, who turned the mid-range catch over the middle into a 48-yard catch-and-run score. Osweiler and the offense weren't able to burn the Bears as easily the rest of the day, but he avoided turning the ball over and added one more touchdown pass. Though the Bears had a chance to tie the game at the end with a two-point conversion, they couldn't get to the goal line, and the Broncos defense sealed the close win.

Week 12, 2015 season: Broncos 30, Patriots 24

On the heels of the Broncos' first win with Osweiler under center, the young quarterback would need to build on his solid start as Denver hosted the 10-0 Patriots. At 8-2, the Broncos needed to win to keep pace in the race for the top seed in the AFC, so this would not just be a vital test for Osweiler.

Through the first 46 minutes, it appeared that Denver would not pass this test. Shortly after the start of the fourth quarter, the Broncos fell behind 21-7 and the Broncos went three-and-out on their ensuing possession. Denver's chances seemed bleak. But the Patriots muffed the punt, the Broncos recovered, and Denver found the end zone to cut the lead to 21-14.

Osweiler helped Denver add three more points on their next drive, and with 2:31 left in regulation, he had a chance to deliver the go-ahead touchdown. With two completions of at least 36 yards, Osweiler got Denver into the red zone; then, he found Andre Caldwell in the end zone to take a 24-21 lead. New England drove for a game-tying field goal as time expired, but C.J. Anderson gave the Broncos a walk-off win with a 48-yard touchdown in the snow in overtime.

Week 15, 2017 season: Broncos 25, Colts 13

Amid some significant struggles by the entire team in 2017, the Broncos rotated quarterbacks several times. Osweiler got his chance with three starts from Week 9 through 11, which happened to include games against the eventual Super Bowl champion Eagles and the AFC champion Patriots. After a loss to the Bengals, the Broncos shifted their starter under center once more.

Four weeks later, Osweiler returned to the field on national television for "Thursday Night Football" in Indianapolis. When Siemian got hurt late in the first quarter, the Broncos were down 7-0. That deficit expanded to 10-0 after a three-and-out, but Osweiler got back on track after that. On the next drive, he capped a 75-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown run. Then, on the Broncos' first drive of the second half, he found receiver Cody Latimer for a 22-yard touchdown to take a 14-13 lead. He kept it going on Denver's next possession, too, as he hit tight end Jeff Heuerman with a strike over the middle for a 54-yard touchdown.

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