CHICAGO (AP) - 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 by Jerrell Freeman on the Broncos' second possession.
But overall? Not bad.
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.
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.
Broncos: DE Adam Gotsis, a second-round draft pick from Georgia Tech, had a tackle for loss to start the third quarter.
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.
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. WR Eddie Royal and TE Zach Miller sat out because of concussions.