EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Teddy Bridgewater threw two touchdowns in his first start for Denver and the Broncos dominated possession and beat the Giants 27-13 on Sunday, spoiling the return of New York running back Saquon Barkley after a long ACL rehabilitation.
Acquired in the offseason from Carolina, Bridgewater completed 28 of 36 passes for 264 yards, sharing the ball with nine receivers. The 28-year-old hit Tim Patrick on a go-ahead 2-yard TD pass in the closing seconds of the first half. Bridgewater eluded pressure and found tight end Albert Okwuegbunam on a 4-yard, fourth-down toss during a 16-play, 75-yard drive to open the second half, extending the lead to 17-7 with 6:48 to go in the quarter.
Melvin Gordon III added a late 70-yard TD run and Brandon McManus kicked two field goals for the Broncos, who have had four straight losing seasons since their Super Bowl 50 title.
Daniel Jones threw a 37-yard touchdown pass play to Sterling Shepard for New York and ran for a 4-yard touchdown on the final play. The third-year quarterback finished 22 of 37 for 253 yards. He also lost a fumble in the red zone with the Giants trailing 20-7 in the third quarter.
Like the offense, Barkley never got going. The 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year finished with 10 carries for 26 yards. His longest run was 5 yards.
The Giants, who are coming off a 6-10 season under then first-year coach Joe Judge, have not been to the playoffs since 2016, and only once since winning their fourth Super Bowl in February 2012.
Denver won the ball possession battle 35:08 to 24:52 as its offense converted 7 of 15 on third down and 3 of 3 on fourth down.
The Broncos came into the season opener off a perfect preseason and they showed that was not a fluke. Von Miller, playing for the first time since 2019, had an early sack and finished with two sacks. Aided by his big run, Gordon finished with 101 yards on 11 carries.
Denver took a 10-7 lead on a 2-yard pass from Bridgewater to Patrick with eight seconds left in the first half. It capped a 7-play, 57-yard drive that featured a 14-yard pass from Bridgewater to Courtland Sutton on a fourth-and-2 from the Giants 49.
New York had taken the lead on the catch and run by Shepard on the series after McManus’ field goal.
Broncos: LB Bradley Chubb missed the game with an ankle injury. Second-year wide receiver Jerry Jeudy was carted off the field in the third quarter and did not return. He had six catches for a team-high 72 yards.
Giants: Pro Bowl tight end Evan Engram missed the game with a calf injury.
Broncos: At the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 19.