I’m trying to contain my excitement about Sunday’s victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, but it’s hard when I know the next destination is Kansas City, and when I know that whoever wins that game will lead the AFC West.
The Denver Broncos really showed up at Empower Field. Teddy Bridgewater started the game with a touchdown maneuver in the first quarter, but was shortly afterward hit by Chargers safety Derwin James. Javonte Williams rushed a nine-yard TD in the second quarter, before Bridgewater returned in the second half and delivered a beautiful one-yard TD pass to Eric Saubert, the first of Saubert’s career.
Eric Saubert wasn’t the only one with a first. Patrick Surtain II managed a 70-yard interception return ending in the first pick-six of his NFL career. Not only that, but his milestone was also sentimental: Surtain’s father, Patrick Sr., made his last career pick-six in the same stadium. Asked if he knew this, PS2 admitted he didn’t.
“I didn’t know that. I keep hearing stats all over,” Surtain said, “That’s crazy. Having that same experience, it’s a special feeling.”
The first-round draft pick actually gave the football from that drive to his family, and described the moment as special. “I’ve always known that when I got that second pick [of the season], they were going to get that ball. I already had it in mind prior to the game and it was a special moment for both of us.”
Saubert’s first TD pass felt pretty special to him, too, but when asked whether he felt the pass was intended for him, he took his cues from his quarterback, asking, “What did Teddy say?”
When one of the reporters told him that Bridgewater just said “It was a touchdown,” Saubert echoed his sentiments, saying, “It was a touchdown then, that is all that matters. But it felt great, it’s been a long time coming.”
“It is something I thought about a lot and for it to come into fruition especially in a moment like that, it’s pretty cool,” he added.
I’m going to interject here. I love how the team looks to Teddy for leadership. Obviously, the QB is the only one who would know who the pass was intended for, but Saubert not only took Bridgewater’s answer and reiterated it, he also took the sentiment behind the answer: the touchdown is what mattered.
It’s really cool to see the Broncos aiming to have one mind about everything - from their gameplay approach, to the details in their TD drives - and I’m hoping we see that go farther and turn into more exciting games like this one.
Bridgewater knows his leadership role, and he embraces it. After being pulled out due to injury and immediately being marked as questionable, he couldn’t wait to return. He was asked to describe his mental process during all that.
“I’m just really psyching myself out. Just reassuring myself that I can get out there and ‘you can do this.’ I just want to be out there for the guys,” he explained, “They work so hard throughout the week, we get so little opportunities, so it’s just an opportunity for me to finish this game and help us come away with the win.”
Bridgewater is, of course, talking not only about the offense or special teams but also the defense, who held the Chargers (and, obviously, scored them a touchdown to boot).
“It was great to see that, our defense stopping them,” the QB said, “It does something for us as an offense, it does something for us as a defense, and the kicking game.”
“You see that, and you just want to take the field and reward the defense with some type of points for their effort,” he added.
Asked about battling for first place in the AFC West next week vs Chiefs, Bridgewater said, “It’s a great feeling, but we got work to do. We have seven days until the next opportunity to go out and compete, so we got to make sure that we’re maximizing and winning each day leading up to that game.”
#5 took a moment to highlight the contribution from their kicker Brandon McManus, their punter Sam Martin, and their offensive line (including Quinn Bailey, who stepped in from practice squad).
“Hats off to those guys up front for just competing, containing the Chargers’ rush,” he said of the O-line, “Opening holes for the running backs, protecting in the pass game, so it was great by those guys.”
“It’s a great team win today, in all three phases,” Bridgewater said, recognizing the offense, defense, and special teams, “You combine all three phases; I think that was a recipe for a win.”