The Denver Broncos were heavy underdogs heading into Super Bowl 50, and won by two touchdowns, and they were three-point underdogs heading into their season-opener – at home against the same opponent.
“I couldn’t believe it at all,” Broncos cornerback Chris Harris said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “To go out and do what we did last year and then come home and be an underdog, we felt very disrespected. We wanted to come out and prove a point.”
The Broncos beat the Panthers, 21-20, in their Super Bowl rematch, as a potential game-winning 50-yard field goal from Graham Gano went wide left. Denver trailed the Panthers 17-7 at halftime but outscored Carolina 14-3 the rest of the way.
“We just had to play our football,” Harris said. “We just wasn’t playing Bronco football. We had to regroup, calm down, get the coaches to calm down and we were good to go.”
The defense pressured Cam Newton all night, with the Broncos tallying 3.0 sacks and Harris recording a pivotal interception in the second half.
“We just tried to make plays,” Harris said. “You just got to pick your spots with Cam. I just seen a formation that I’ve been studying all week, and I was able to just make a play. (That type of pass rush is) what we expect for the whole season – to play like we played in the second half. We just got to pay like that for the rest of the year.”
Offensively, Trevor Siemian did just enough to get his first NFL win. He went 18-of-26 for 178 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. C.J. Anderson, meanwhile, moved the sticks throughout the game, carrying 20 times for 92 yards and a score and hauling in four catches for 47 yards and a touchdown.
“The offensive line is so much better this year,” Harris said. “As long as we can take care of the ball and be smart, the offense can do it all. I’m excited about Trevor. To go against this type of defense in your first game in the NFL, that’s very challenging to do, and I think he played very well.”
The Panthers had a chance to win the game at the end, but they looked sluggish and out of sorts on their final drive.
“That’s the type of game it is,” Harris said. “We found out we were in better shape. We could kind of tell they was getting tired, and we just tried to wear them down.”
Many NFL analysts predicted that the Broncos would miss the playoffs this season, but if Week 1 is any indication, Denver is the team to beat in the AFC West.
“One thing this team has, we have belief, and we have a lot of heart,” Harris said. “It don’t matter what the game situation is. We feel like we can win and that showed tonight. We got the heart of a champion and we are champions, so we ain’t going to fall off that easy like people think.”