DENVER (AP) — Teddy Bridgewater was hospitalized overnight for evaluation of a head injury following a scary collision that appeared to knock him unconscious during the Denver Broncos’ 15-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
The Denver quarterback Bridgewater didn’t move until they rolled him over to place him on a body board and cart him off the field. He was immediately placed in an ambulance and taken to a hospital.
"They think he should be and will be fine eventually," coach Vic Fangio said.
That was about the only good news for the Broncos (7-7), who saw their playoff hopes plummet despite holding Joe Burrow to 157 yards passing, bottling up Ja’Marr Chase (one catch for 3 yards) and Tee Higgins (two catches for 23 yards) and keeping running back Joe Mixon (58 yards) out of the end zone.
"We’re not out," Fangio insisted after praising his team’s stellar defensive effort against a team that was averaging 27 points. "We’re just going to strap it up, have another good week of preparation and get ready for the next game" next week at Las Vegas.
There’s a decent chance backup Drew Lock will get that start, his first of 2021, after losing his starting job to Bridgewater in the offseason.
Lock has subbed for Lock three times this season and has two turnovers on goal-to-go situations, including Sunday when defensive end Khalid Kareem snatched the ball right out of his hands on second-and-goal from the 9 early in the fourth quarter.
Lock has completed 55% of his passes (22 for 40) for 227 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions, two fumbles, one of which he’s lost, and five sacks.
Bridgewater is completing 67.6% of his passes and he’s already thrown a career-best 18 touchdowns passes to go with just seven interceptions.
But he’s been banged up and hobbles through many a week of practice, having suffered two head injuries, a foot injury and a shin injury behind an often porous line that’s especially vulnerable in offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s heavy use of three-wide, spread formations.
It was on a scramble that Bridgewater got hurt Sunday.
With 5:34 left in the third quarter, Bridgewater scrambled to his right on second-and-5 from his 30-yard line and Bengals linebacker Joe Bachie came up and squatted as he was about to make the tackle.
They collided and Bridgewater went airborne, falling on his face just as he was hit again, in his left side, by defensive tackle B.J. Hill, whose hit seemed to accelerate Bridgewater’s faceplant into the ground.
Bridgewater lay motionless as Bachie rolled onto his back on his own several yards away as concerned players from both teams gathered on the field.
While Bachie was helped off with a leg injury and ruled out, the cart came out to take Bridgewater off the field.
The Broncos brought in Bridgewater for his leadership in big games like this, so losing their locker room leader was a big blow in a crucial moment.
"The first thing is obviously going to be praying for Teddy and him as a person and his health," safety Justin Simmons said. "Moving forward whatever the case may be, we’re going to support Drew 100%. We’re going to support (No. 3 QB) Brett Rypien 100%. That’s what it’s going to have to be.
"We can win games, we can win games. It just stinks. You know how much Teddy puts into it. He’s such a big voice in our locker room. It hurts."
Players from both teams milled around the field, some kneeling in prayer when they saw that Bridgewater didn’t get back up.
"That’s scary, man," teammate Bradley Chubb said. "We saw it earlier in the week with (Chargers tight end) Donald Parham Jr. hitting his head and being out cold. We kind of saw Teddy laying there, and we wished for the best at the time and when we saw him move and turn his hands over a little bit, we knew he was OK.
"It’s still traumatizing. It’s still sad to see your leader and your quarterback go down like that, and we’re all behind him," Chubb added. "At this point, football doesn’t matter. His health is what’s most important. I hope he’s doing everything he can to make sure his mind is right and that everything is OK with him because at the end of day, you don’t want to have a traumatic brain injury. I’m praying for Teddy."
Broncos tight end Albert Okwuegbunam said it was difficult to refocus and play out the game.
"First of all, you never want to see a guy have that type of injury that bad, especially with Teddy being such a big leader on this team and having such a big influence," Okwuegbunam said. "It was a really big blow. Everybody kind of just gathered around him, but regardless, I know Teddy’s going to be good. He’s going to be all right."
It wasn’t just the Broncos who were rattled by Bridgewater’s injury.
"It’s impactful for everybody in the stadium," Bengals coach Zaz Taylor said. "You never know what they response is going to be by anybody coming out of that. I’ve got all the respect in the world for Teddy Bridgewater. That guy has competed to the highest degree on every team he’s play for and on every snap. Just really have a lot of respect for him and how he plays the game, and I’m hopeful that things turn out for the best for him."