After starting 0-3 and then getting to 1-5, four weeks later the Denver Broncos are back to .500.
5-5 never felt so good.
Thanks to four wins in a row - three of them to the Chiefs, Bills and Vikings - the Broncos are actually fighting for a Wild Card playoff spot. It’s crazy.
But while fans are hyped and players get another “Club Dub” celebration in the locker room, head coach Sean Payton is still pumping the brakes. Payton has said many times there’s a fine line between a groove and a rut.
Well the Broncos are certainly not in a rut, but a “groove” is a little premature still.
“Four wins in a row, yeah, we’ve got some momentum going. I don’t know if I’m ready to groove yet,” Sean Payton said after the game. “This team still needs to improve. That’s how we have to coach and how we have to practice. And I think we’ll do that.”
But Payton certainly wasn’t without compliments for his players, starting off with Courtland Sutton, who had the go-ahead touchdown pass with just a minute to go.
“That was huge. That was a gutsy drive,” Payton said of Wilson’s lead before turning his attention to Sutton. “He’s a big target and a great teammate. He’s doing a really good job for us.”
After the game, Wilson and Sutton spoke to NBC’s Melissa Stark about their connection on that play. But before he would answer about the touchdown pass, Wilson knew where to put the praise.
“First of all, our defense was lights out, man. They were unbelievable,” he said, noting their elite play ever since the second half of the Bears game. “But this man right here [pointing to Sutton], that’s one thing I figured out, this boy can make some plays!”
Sutton pinned the connection on a locker room-wide belief in their teammates.
“We have faith and confidence in each other, man,” Sutton said. “We get our backs to the wall and all we do is keep fighting, keep punching, keep swinging. Our defense played their butts off. They gave us a lot of opportunities to go out there and stay in the game.”
The #broncos defense has forced 13 turnovers since Week 7. And they had a bye in Week 9.— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) November 20, 2023
And as corny as “belief and confidence in each other” may sound, Payton certainly believes it for this team.
After all, the stat sheet would show Minnesota winning the game, the coach acknowledged, if not for the team having confidence it could go out and win it in the final two minutes.
“With each win you gain more confidence,” Payton said, adding that you find out a lot about people when you’re down - aka, being 1-5 after six games. “You get to see the grit. I’m proud of the fight and the way these guys have prepared.”
But confidence doesn’t come from a little luck. It comes from demonstrated ability - which the Broncos have now done four games in a row.
“It’s nice to feel that in the locker room right now. There’s nothing like winning,” Payton said. “I’m happy for these players. I’m happy to see these guys sharing this success. They had a tough season a year ago and many of these players have had a tough couple of seasons. I want them to win.”
But like his coach, Wilson knows the team isn’t exactly where it needs to be yet.
“We haven’t done anything yet. We haven’t done anything,” he told Stark on NBC. “But we’re heading in the right direction, and that’s the exciting part.”
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