DENVER (AP) – Case Keenum moved the chains for the first time for the Broncos in a 24-23 exhibition loss to the Chicago Bears on Saturday night, and Chad Kelly threw another touchdown after leapfrogging Paxton Lynch on the depth chart.
Lynch’s second straight poor performance opened the door for the Bears to come back from a 23-10 fourth-quarter deficit.
Bears backup QB Chase Daniel threw two TD passes in the final five minutes, including a 12-yarder to tight end Ben Braunecker with 1:53 left to tie it. Pat O’Donnell’s extra point gave Chicago (1-2) its first lead.
Lynch had the Broncos (0-2) close to field goal range when Isaiah McKenzie, who had a half dozen fumbles as a rookie last year, coughed up the ball after a catch, and linebacker Isaiah Irving recovered for Chicago with 58 seconds left.
After a pair of three-and-outs in his dud of a Denver debut last week, Keenum rebounded from another three-and-out to lead two scoring drives on his final two possessions, finishing 8 for 13 for 78 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Kelly had his second straight strong showing, this one just 48 hours after general manager John Elway indicated he might have to go in search of a veteran backup quarterback if he can’t trust either Kelly or Lynch to come in and win games should Keenum get hurt.
Bears QB Mitch Trubisky also rebounded from his dismal preseason debut last week, throwing for 90 yards and a touchdown on 9-of-14 passing. But he also threw an interception and was tackled by first-round pick Bradley Chubb for a safety after the shotgun snap from the 1 went off his hands.
Brandon McManus made it 5-0 with a chip-shot field goal following the free kick.
Trubisky hit Tre Burton from 7 yards out for a 7-5 Chicago lead after rookie cornerback Isaac Yiadom was flagged for a 37-yard pass interference foul.
The Broncos capitalized on a big pass interference themselves when rookie Royce Freeman’s 4-yard TD run followed a 45-yard flag on DB Doran Grant.
Last week, Keenum had a pair of three-and-outs against Minnesota, and Trubisky’s two series against Cincinnati in his first preseason game netted minus-1 yard.
Kelly completed 7 of 9 passes for 90 yards and capped his first drive of the night with a 16-yard touchdown toss to rookie Courtland Sutton .
Lynch was booed when he replaced Kelly to work with the third string, and his first two series ended in punts. After the second one, Daniel capped an 80-yard, 10-play drive with a 2-yard strike to Taquan Mizzell to pull the Bears to 23-17 with 4:38 remaining.
Lynch was booed again as Denver went three and out, and Marquette King’s 34-yard punt set up the Bears near midfield.
Von Miller , who was held out at the last minute a week earlier, made his preseason debut for Denver and played a couple of series. Miller said he wasn’t upset by the decision last week to sit him against the Vikings but said he did want to play.
Bears rookie linebacker Roquan Smith has practiced in pads just once since January, so it wasn’t a surprise he was in street clothes Saturday night. Earlier in the week he became the last member of the 2018 NFL draft class to sign his contract and reported 30 days after he was supposed to. The former University of Georgia star was the eighth overall pick in the draft.
Just like last week, Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas weren’t on the sideline for the national anthem. Thomas, who wasn’t in uniform, ran off the sideline and ducked into the tunnel behind the team’s bench when “The Star-Spangled Banner” began playing.
Bears TE Adam Shaheen injured his right ankle on the game’s first drive.
Broncos S Will Parks was helped off the field with a left knee injury after tackling running back Jordan Howard late in the first quarter. McKenzie, who had called for a fair catch on a punt, was evaluated for a concussion after Deiondre’ Hall’s personal foul tackle but he returned, then coughed up the football in the final minute. WR Jordan Leslie left with an injured left hand.
Bears: Host Chiefs on Aug. 25.
Broncos: Visit Washington on Aug. 24.