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This one’s for the Broncos defense

What better way to celebrate Justin Simmons’ birthday?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

My highlight of 2023 has been a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs; but second to that is probably the game I watched Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings.

I will start by giving credit to Russell Wilson and our offense. I’m largely happy with how they played. They went in there and scored that final touchdown in crunch time, and nothing would’ve mattered if they hadn’t. I said last week that regardless of how many defensive takeaways you have, if the offense fails to capitalize then it’s all moot. That was the song of the Denver Broncos last year, and it sounded a lot like zero chances at the postseason.

Fast forward to November 19, 2023, when we’ve won our fourth game in a row; and regardless of how low our playoff chances are, we’re still in the picture after facing playoff-potential teams. When was the last time that happened?

I’ve been thinking a lot about our secondary — how they forced turnover after turnover last year to no avail, how they continue to persevere through years of disappointing losses, how they lost their footing in the beginning of this season but are now dancing in step once more — and I wonder how many winning touchdowns and field goals wouldn’t have existed without the countless fumble recoveries and interceptions or defense so readily grabs up.

The difference between this year and last is that our offense is starting to make good on those opportunities given by our secondary.

Team, we’re starting to look like a team.

A win isn’t the only thing to commemorate, either. Leader and safety Justin Simmons celebrated his birthday on the field and, in the post-game pressers, shared some of that excitement.

“I was saying, I just wanted to come out and win this game. I didn’t care how it looked like and how it looks,” he admitted, “I just wanted to come in, and the guys played so good and so proud of the team.”

CB Patrick Surtain added to the spirit, revealing that the secondary has a “formula” they activate. “We have a formula going on, and once we have that it is just pretty exciting to see. It brings a different type of energy around the locker room, like you said, enthusiasm.”

“We’re just going to keep on rolling, keep on going, but seeing how far we’ve come, seeing how many games we won under our belt is pretty cool to see,” he continued.

Unsurprisingly, Surtain had high praise for Minnesota, acknowledging the toughness of the game and reflecting on how they pulled through with a win.

“Minnesota is a great team, obviously them winning five straight. We knew it was going to be a great ball game, a tough ball game,” he said, “We just never lost our composure. We stayed laser focused a lot at the end till the final whistle. That’s a testament to our team and how we’re built.”

Despite the Vikings’ competitiveness, Surtain doesn’t pat himself on the back for scoring against ‘difficult’ opponents; rather, he focuses on holding himself to a high standard across the board, where he continues to shape his ball playing and conquer each game one by one.”

“We hold ourselves to a standard, that’s what is expected each and every week,” Surtain explained, “Going into every week we look at what we can improve too.”

I said a few weeks ago that it doesn’t ever matter that we come close to beating a good team; it only matters when we win. In other words, I couldn’t agree more.

The game was stressful, too, for fans and athletes alike. OLB Jonathon Cooper shed some light on this stress when he talked about how “close” the game was.

“Man, yeah, we’re winning some pretty close ones. I feel like we’ve been in some close ones since I’ve been here,” Cooper said, “It’s either one-point differential type deal, one-score game, and now everything’s just turning our way at the end of the game.”

Most importantly, according to Cooper, they’re “learning how to finish.”

“It was our main objective to do at the beginning of the season, and now we’re starting to do it.”