TAMPA, Fla. — The Broncos improved to 4-0 for the second consecutive year and third time in four seasons, using first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch in the second half in place of the injured Trevor Siemian, a stout defense and overcoming an 86-minute weather delay to rout the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 27-7, at Raymond James Stadium.
The game was delayed at 4:54 p.m. MDT with 6:52 to play in the game as severe weather moved over the stadium. Lightning and sheets of rain from a slow-moving storm delayed the game.
It resumed at 6:20 p.m. and the Broncos closed out the victory. Tampa Bay fell to 1-3.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of things, but that’s one for the ages right there,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “It was really concerning, that type of break then having to go back on the field. You’re just concerned for all the players, but we got out of there.”
Siemian was injured late in the second quarter when he was sacked and body-slammed to the turf by Buccaneers defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, landing hard on the shoulder.
No penalty was called on the play.
“He’s day to day,” Kubiak said. “He might have been able to go back in, but I’m really proud of Paxton, how he handled the football team to get us out of here with a W.”
“The shoulder is a little sore, but I think I’ll be alright,” said Siemian, who added he could have gone back into the game if necessary.
But he wasn’t needed as Lynch directed a long drive to start the second half, and the defense clamped down on quarterback Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers offense.
Before Siemian left, he led two short touchdown drives that were set up by interceptions by Aqib Talib.
The first one came on the third play of the game, setting up the Broncos at the 11-yard line. On the next play, Siemian found Demaryius Thomas, who made the catch at the 5 and took it into the end zone to make it 7-0 with 13:26 left in the first quarter.
The Buccaneers responded on their next drive, going 75 yards in 13 plays, taking 6:46 off the clock, with Winston running in from the 7.
In the second quarter, Talib got his second interception, making the pick of Winston at the Buccaneers 42 and returning it 15 yards to the 27-yard line with 13:10 to play in the first half.
The Broncos quickly pounced, with Thomas going up high to make an impressive catch of 17 yards. Then a pass interference penalty put the Broncos at the 1, where C.J. Anderson waltzed into the end zone to make it 14-7 with 12:14 left in the first half.
The Broncos got their third turnover of the first half with 3:34 to play when running back Charles Sims was hit by Von Miller then tried to pitch it back to Winston.
But defensive tackle Billy Winn snagged the ball out of midair to give the Broncos the ball at the Buccaneers 34.
After Siemian left at the two-minute warning, Lynch drove the Broncos 47 yards to set up a 38-yard field goal for Brandon McManus to put the Broncos ahead 17-7 at halftime.
The Broncos took the opening drive of the second half and drove an impressive 69 yards in 16 plays, chewing up 7:57 off the clock. But the drive stalled in the red zone and McManus made a 24-yard field goal to make it 20-7 with 7:03 left in the third quarter.
Lynch got the first touchdown pass of his NFL career with 8:55 to play in the game when he found Emmanuel Sanders from 5 yards to make it 27-7.
The Broncos return home next Sunday to play the high-flying Atlanta Falcons. The 2:05 p.m. game will be on FOX31 Denver.