This was a night for the football diehards. While most of the country was focused on a pool a hemisphere away, the return of preseason football felt like a wave of relief washing over us.
Thursday's six games weren't all memorable, meaningful barnburners. They were proof that live football is here and it's not going away for 26 weeks.
Sanchez had his career distilled into three drives: Touchdown, interception and three-and-out. Siemian showed command, timing and calm while leading the Broncos to three field-goal attempts in four drives. Both players made a few impressive throws. It comes down to what kind of quarterback coach Gary Kubiak wants to roll with. Siemian, a 2015 seventh-round pick, strangely could be the safer option. Sanchez is more prone to the big moment and the big mistake. This battle remains too close to call.
- Rookie first-round quarterback Paxton Lynch played the entire second half, simultaneously showing why he's not yet in the starting picture and why he should be before long. Lynch held the ball too long while taking three sacks and didn't lead the Broncos to any points. But he showed off his arm and legs on a handful of plays and only had one incompletion.
- Perhaps Kubiak and Broncos general manager John Elway aren't sweating the quarterback situation because they watch the Broncos' defense daily. Denver's defense attacked the Bears like the team was angry at former coach John Fox. Chicago started the game with a three-and-out on three of its first four possessions. The Broncos had seven sacks on the way to a shutout despite missing Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris.
- The Patriots' receiver group was missing Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan. Then it lost promising rookie Malcolm Mitchell, who suffered an ugly elbow injury. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that an MRI is coming for Mitchell, whose elbow was "popped back into place" after a subluxation. At the moment, he stands to miss four weeks.
- Saints rookie receiver Michael Thomas has been one of the stories of training camp with daily jaw-dropping catches. It was nice to see that carry over into the games; two of his four catches for 67 yards were highlight reel stuff. Thomas was fourth in the rotation at receiver but that shouldn't last long.
- Wentz's debut wasn't nearly as bad as his stats would suggest. While he only finished with 89 yards and a pick on 24 attempts, Marc Sessler notes that Wentz flashed plenty of talent.
- There's no need to panic (of course), but it was hard not to notice Washington's struggles to run the ball with their top backs. Matt Jones and Keith Marshall combined for no yardage on seven carries. At least the Redskins' starting defense looked good, forcing Matt Ryan into consecutive three-and-outs.
- Bucs rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo will be in the spotlight this season after the Bucs traded up to take him. He didn't miss a single field goal under 40 yards or an extra point in college, but his first kick in the NFL was a missed extra point. Hopefully he gets the yips out of the way early; he closed out his night with a 38-yard field goal.