Good morning, Broncos Country!
Sunday’s comeback win over the Chicago Bears showcased an offense on the move as it overcame a 21-point deficit to win by three, 31-28.
But finally it was the 2023 Denver Broncos Defense that really turned the game around.
For a defense that had been the primary reason for Denver’s three losses so far, the unit did its part Sunday to neutralize the opponent’s offense (eventually) while energizing its own.
The first half was looking like just more of the same Sunday as the Bears put up 265 yards of total offense behind Justin Fields’ near-perfect throwing day (16 of 17 for over 200 yards, his one incompletion coming from a Hail Mary attempt to end the first half).
Although the Broncos scored on their opening drive, they went radio silent for nearly three quarters as the Bears scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions in the first half.
But the Broncos’ defense got its bearings (pun intended) and allowed just seven points after halftime.
As Russell Wilson led two touchdown drives to get within reach just minutes to go in the fourth quarter, it was the defense putting points on the board to tie the game at 28.
On a Nik Bonitto strip sack, Jonathan Cooper scooped up the ball and ran 20 yards to score the game-tying touchdown.
️ "YES SIR!"— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 2, 2023
How Dave Logan saw The Coop Scoop™️ pic.twitter.com/lo681k6AZl
After the game, Cooper laughed about the fact that he hadn’t scored a touchdown since high school football.
“I’m definitely going to be hearing from some of my coaches after this,” he said.
Cooper’s current head coach considered the play absolutely crucial in the game.
“Obviously, the strip fumble arguably would’ve been the biggest play of the game. I think,” Payton said.
But it took a couple more explosive defensive plays to ensure the win, including a fourth-down stop deep in Broncos territory courtesy of Alex Singleton, who led the team in tackles.
When the Bears elected to go for 4th and 1, Alex Singleton was dialed in and met Khalil Herbert in the backfield, preventing him from even sniffing the line of scrimmage.
After Wilson and the offense blazed down the field thanks to a Marvin Mims 50-yard reception, Denver settled for a 51-yard go-ahead field goal.
It was up to the defense once again to lay down the hammer to prevent the Bears from tying the game, or worse, winning in the closing seconds.
And for the first time all season, the defense rose to the challenge.
An interception on 3rd-and-13 by Kareem Jackson sealed the Broncos’ first victory of the year.
In total, on Chicago’s final four possessions of the game, the Broncos defense forced a three-and-out, returned a fumble for a touchdown, held strong on a fourth-down attempt and intercepted a pass.
Asked about the momentum shift from his “Coop and score,” Cooper called the impact “huge.”
“I was saying on the sideline that the defense needed to score, that we needed to create a turnover, we needed to do something to get this juice going,” he said. “I feel like we need to take more accountability as a defense and put more on our shoulders so that we can affect the game more and get more stops.”
Quarterback Russell Wilson - who pumped his fists like he had won the Super Bowl following Courtland Sutton’s touchdown catch to bring the game within 7 - reached his 32nd fourth-quarter comeback win with Sunday’s victory.
“When the game is on the line, that is when you have to love it the most,” he said. “You’ve got to have great belief and you’ve got to have no fear. The great thing about comebacks is everybody, not just you. Everybody staying poised, everybody believing ...I’ve had some great moments in my career but that [win] was one of my favorite ones.”
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