CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Trevor Siemian elected to go to Northwestern. Coach Pat Fitzgerald felt the kid was under recruited because of his size and other options. Siemian considered Rutgers and Harvard. But he fell in love with the Wildcats program on his visit.
His career didn't go as expected. He struggled with ankle injuries and a torn ACL sabotaged his promising senior season. But there was a moment that hinted of what unfolded Sunday in muggy Cincinnati. Northwestern played at Notre Dame in 2014. Because of the Wildcats' struggles, Siemian had become a "punching bag" for critics, Fitzgerald lamented. Before a packed house, Siemian punched back. He led Northwestern to a 43-40 overtime victory. At the game's conclusion, the Northwestern players retreated to a corner of the stadium and began singing the fight song. Siemian wandered over, unassuming as a little kid, waved to the camera and smiled.
"He's cool like Luke Bryan, the country star. Nothing bothers him," Fitzgerald said. "What you see is what you get."
It become obvious at Paul Brown stadium. In the biggest moment, he played his best. With the Broncos trailing 17-16 in the fourth quarter and the "Who Dey" crowd in full throat, Siemian went to work. He completed seven straight passes, and converted a third-down-and-7 to Demaryius Thomas to keep the drive breathing. He put the Broncos ahead with a 1-yard strike to tight end John Phillips. Siemian then put the Bengals away on the next drive with a third-and-11 rainbow to Thomas, the 55-yard jaunt siphoning the life out of the Bengals.
Siemian started 9-for-19. He missed targets and made mistakes that went unpunished. But he completed 9 of 10 passes for 159 yards in the final quarter. Coach Gary Kubiak left most impressed by Siemian's ability to convert on third down while keeping eyes down field when moving in the pocket.
"It's amazing. He's in complete control out there," offensive lineman Michael Schofield said. "Give him the credit."
Russell Okung called Siemian's performance "money," comparing the kid to Russell Wilson.
"He is a finisher," Okung said. "You can't teach that."
The Broncos have scored 45 fourth quarter points. Only the San Francisco's have scored more. In one quarter, Siemian showed why he won the job over the summer. He revealed resolve, and when the game became tight, he let it loose.
"We've been waiting for the offense to finish," cornerback Chris Harris said. "And they finished today. Trevor played great."