Russell Wilson throws TD pass before Cardinals mount comeback to beat Broncos 18-17

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton reacts on the sideline during the second half of an NFL...
Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton reacts on the sideline during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz., Friday, Aug. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)(Ross D. Franklin | AP)
Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 11:51 PM MDT
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Denver’s Russell Wilson capped a lengthy preseason outing with a touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy before the Arizona Cardinals rallied for an 18-17 victory Friday night.

Cardinals third-string quarterback David Blough led the winning drive, hitting Brian Cobbs for an 18-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left to pull within 17-16. Arizona then converted its 2-point attempt when Emari Demercado pushed the pile and fell into the end zone.

Wilson — who played most of the first half — completed 7 of 13 passes for 93 yards and also absorbed several big hits, including a sack by Dennis Gardeck. The nine-time Pro Bowl selection didn’t have much time to throw, particularly in the first quarter, but ended his outing on a good note after finding a wide-open Jeudy over the middle for a 21-yard touchdown strike on fourth down with 6:54 left in the second.

It was Wilson’s first game action since first-year Denver coach Sean Payton got into hot water for defending his quarterback, telling a reporter that last year’s coach Nathaniel Hackett did “one of the worst coaching jobs in the NFL” and saying there were “20 dirty hands” around Wilson’s career-worst season in 2022.

Payton eventually said he regretted those comments.

Elliott Fry made a 55-yard field goal just before halftime to give the Broncos a 10-0 lead.

Jonathan Gannon got the win in his preseason debut as Arizona’s head coach after he was hired during the offseason to replace Kliff Kingsbury. He spent the previous two seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Arizona’s Colt McCoy was 4 of 4 passing for 17 yards in the opening series, which was his only action of the night. The 36-year-old is expected to be the team’s starter until Kyler Murray returns from his knee injury.

The Cardinals got on the scoreboard midway through the third quarter when veteran kicker Matt Prater made a 38-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to 10-3.

Rookie Clayton Tune threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kaden Davis to tie the game at 10-all with 12:25 left. Denver’s Jaleel McLaughlin ran for a 4-yard touchdown to push the Broncos ahead 17-10 with 1:30 remaining.

The 59-year-old Payton previously coached the New Orleans Saints for 15 seasons, leading the franchise to a Super Bowl win during the 2009 season.

Denver’s Essang Bassey and Arizona’s Antonio Hamilton Sr. each had an interception. Broncos backup Jarrett Stidham completed 5 of 15 passes for 50 yards and an interception.


The Broncos missed two field goals — a 47-yarder by Brett Maher and a 50-yarder by Fry — and had another 52-yard attempt by Maher blocked. Arizona’s Prater missed a 53-yard attempt.


Tune completed 13 of 23 passes for 135 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The fifth-round pick out of Houston could be Arizona’s backup quarterback until Murray returns.


Denver defensive tackle D.J. Jones left the game in the first quarter with a concussion.

Arizona’s Andre Baccellia left the game in the second half and was evaluated for a concussion.


Broncos: At San Francisco on Saturday, Aug. 19.

Cardinals: Host Kansas City on Saturday, Aug. 19.