Sanchez makes good case for QB job as Denver Broncos beat Bears 22-0 in preseason opener

Sanchez maintained his cool against Chicago's pressure and kept the opening drive going by completing three third-down passes. Rookie Paxton Lynch went 6 for 7 with 74 yards in his first NFL appearance.

CHICAGO | Mark Sanchez made a strong opening argument for the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback job, throwing for 99 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter, and the defending Super Bowl champions beat the Chicago Bears 22-0 in the preseason opener on Thursday night.

Sanchez came through with just the sort of performance he needed if he’s going to beat out Trevor Siemian.

He completed 10 of 13 passes in the first quarter and led a game-opening 76-yard touchdown drive. He was intercepted on the Broncos’ second possession when Jerrell Freeman picked off a tipped pass.

But overall? Not bad.

Mark Sanchez

Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) greets fans following an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. The Broncos defeated the Bears 22-0. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Gary Kubiak, John Fox

Denver Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, left, greets Chicago Bears coach John Fox following an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. The Broncos defeated the Bears 22-0. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Cody Latimer , Deon Bush ,  Deiondre' Hall

Denver Broncos wide receiver Cody Latimer is unable to reach a pass in the corner of the end zone as Chicago Bears defensive back Deon Bush and cornerback Deiondre' Hall defend during an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (John Starks/Daily Herald via AP)

Cornelius Washington, Paxton Lynch

Chicago Bears defensive end Cornelius Washington (90) tries to pull down Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Trevor Siemian

Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) calls a play at the line of scrimmage during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Paxton Lynch

Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) throws against the Chicago Bears during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Tae-Gyun Kim)

Broncos Bears Football

Chicago Bears strong safety Chris Prosinski and defensive back Deon Bush break up a pass in the end zone to Denver Broncos wide receiver Cody Latimer during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (John Starks/Daily Herald via AP)

Mark Sanchez

Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) greets fans following an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. The Broncos defeated the Bears 22-0. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Kyle Long

Chicago Bears offensive tackle Kyle Long (75) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Denver Broncos in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Connor Shaw, Robbie Gould

Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould (9) kicks front he hold of quarterback Connor Shaw (8) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Cody Latimer, Deiondre' Hall

Denver Broncos wide receiver Cody Latimer (14) is tackled by Chicago Bears cornerback Deiondre' Hall (32) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Jordan Taylor, Deiondre' Hall

Chicago Bears cornerback Deiondre' Hall (32) breaks up a pass intended for Denver Broncos wide receiver Jordan Taylor (87) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Connor Shaw

Chicago Bears quarterback Connor Shaw (8) throws against the Denver Broncos during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Jay Cutler

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) on the sideline during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Denver Broncos in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Will Parks, Demaryius Thomas

Denver Broncos defensive back Will Parks (34) and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) greets fans following an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. The Broncos defeated the Bears 22-0. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Sanchez maintained his cool against Chicago’s pressure and kept the opening drive going by completing three third-down passes — including a 32-yard TD to a wide open Demaryius Thomas along the right side.

As for Siemian, the former Northwestern star looked comfortable throwing short passes and was 7 of 12 for 88 yards in the second quarter.

It was a rough start for a Bears team looking for more after going 6-10 in coach John Fox’s first season.

Jay Cutler threw for 18 yards and got sacked twice in the first quarter. Brian Hoyer threw for 81 yards in the second period but was sacked three times.

On a positive note for the Bears, Alshon Jeffery played after being limited by a strained hamstring and caught a 12-yard pass. And Kevin White caught his first pass for Chicago after missing his rookie season because of a fractured shin.

Demaryius Thomas

Denver Broncos tight end Virgil Green (85) celebrates a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Mark Sanchez

Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Demaryius Thomas, Matt Paradis

Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) celebrates a touchdown with center Matt Paradis (61) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Tae-Gyun Kim)

Broncos Bears Football

The Chicago Bears faces the Denver Broncos at the line of scrimmage during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Kalif Raymond

Denver Broncos wide receiver Kalif Raymond (19) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Zaire Anderson, DeVier Posey

Denver Broncos linebacker Zaire Anderson (50) celebrates with DeVier Posey after recovering a blocked punt during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Kapri Bibbs, Sam Acho

Denver Broncos running back Kapri Bibbs (35) is tackled by Chicago Bears outside linebacker Sam Acho (49) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Trevor Siemian

Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

T.J. Ward

Denver Broncos strong safety T.J. Ward (43 ) celebrate a sack against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Broncos Bears Football

The Denver Broncos huddle during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

T.J. Ward

Denver Broncos strong safety T.J. Ward (43 ) celebrate a sack against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Mark Sanchez

Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Gary Kubiak

Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

C.J. Anderson, Mark Sanchez

Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) fakes a hand off to running back C.J. Anderson (22) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Jerrell Freeman, Virgil Green

Denver Broncos tight end Virgil Green (85) is tackled by Chicago Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman (50) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Mark Sanchez

Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) throws against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Paxton Lynch

Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) at the line of scrimmage during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Dekoda Watson

Denver Broncos linebacker Dekoda Watson (57) celebrates a safely against the Chicago Bears during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

QUOTABLE

Broncos: “Just keep improving. Keep improving and having fun out there. Don’t overthink it. We’re having a great time, we’ve got a great squad and it’s a great opportunity. I’m just going to keep maximizing every opportunity I get, like I did tonight.” — Sanchez on what he has to do to clinch the starting job.

Broncos: “Not too much differently. Just kind of do what I’ve been doing, stay within myself, and the plays will come. I’m on a pretty good team. Whoever’s pulling the trigger back there, guys are going step up and make plays.” — Siemian when asked what he has to do to win the starting job.

Bears: “We need to get better. It starts with everybody. It starts with me. So we’ll take a look at it, the limited amount of plays we were in and look at it.” — Cutler on the Bears’ play.

Bears: “I was disappointed personally. I think our team was disappointed. We were expecting more. I don’t know that we executed as well as any of us expected. It is preseason, you don’t game plan. It’s pretty basic.” — Fox on Chicago’s performance.

NO MILLER

Broncos star LB Von Miller sat out because he said he was not mentally ready after a busy offseason. The Super Bowl MVP had a tense contract negotiation and made several TV and public appearances.

ROOKIE WATCH

Broncos: DE Adam Gotsis, a second-round draft pick from Georgia Tech, had a tackle for loss to start the third quarter.

Bears: Second-round pick Cody Whitehair started at left guard but also saw time at center.

QB COMPARISON

Broncos: Rookie Paxton Lynch went 6 for 7 with 74 yards in his first NFL appearance. The 6-foot-7 strong-armed quarterback from Memphis was drafted with the 26th overall pick.

Bears: Hoyer was 7 of 10 with an interception in his first appearance for the Bears.

INJURY UPDATE

Broncos: The Broncos held out OLB DeMarcus Ware (back) and CB Aqib Talib, who suffered a gunshot wound in his right leg in the offseason.

Bears: RB Ka’Deem Carey was being evaluated for a concussion after getting shaken up in the third quarter. S De’Andre Houston-Carson hurt his neck, and DE Cornelius Washington (knee, ankle) left the game. WR Eddie Royal and TE Zach Miller sat out because of concussions.

POSITION BATTLE

Broncos: Cody Latimer, challenging Bennie Fowler for the third receiver spot, caught seven passes for 82 yards. Fowler, meanwhile, blocked a punt by Pat O’Donnell that Zaire Anderson recovered in the end zone for a touchdown late in the first half.

Bears: CB Bryce Callahan, competing with Kyle Fuller for a starting spot, got beaten badly on Thomas’ touchdown. But he also had the tip on Freeman’s interception.

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