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Justin Simmons fulfills big expectations with game-ending interception

Posted Oct 1, 2017

Justin Simmons was the Broncos' game-saving hero Sunday night with a fourth-quarter pick.

DENVER — Justin Simmons knew what was coming on that last throw.

He recognized that the Raiders had run the play before, so he sat back, tracked the pass and out-jumped Oakland's Amari Cooper for an interception to clinch a 16-10 victory.

"All game I was trying to be patient, play my role in the back end, get the ball down when it gets to me, go attack the ball — if it's thrown in the middle — up in the air, just go high-point the football and be a play-maker," Simmons said. "The coaches trust in me [and] my teammates trusted in me."

The Raiders had been driving, hoping to stun the Broncos with a last-minute touchdown. But starting quarterback Derek Carr had left the game with a back injury and EJ Manuel came in.

"We knew if he came in, he would be ready and he would be able to diagnose the defense," Simmons said. "So we just tried to make sure we were giving him the same looks that we were giving Carr."

With no timeouts remaining and less than five minutes left, the Raiders were in a tough spot, which is exactly where the "No-Fly Zone" likes its opponents.

"He was due," Chris Harris Jr. said. "We definitely needed the play and he made a huge play for us. We need him to make those impact plays and have some confidence."

Confidence was exactly what his teammates saw on that pick.

"We don't second-guess ourselves in those situations," Aqib Talib said, "and 'J' definitely didn't second-guess himself right there. He went up and made a great play."

The Broncos knew Simmons could make those kinds of plays. They saw flashes of it during his rookie season, and they saw even more during the offseason as he made the strides that led to his new role as a starter in the "No-Fly Zone."

"Justin is obviously a great young player, very intelligent, very athletic," Head Coach Vance Joseph said. "That play he made tonight was a big-time play, and that's what we've seen from this guy the last four or five months. So moving forward, he's going to get better and better as he plays more football, but I've been very pleased with how he's handled himself as a first-time starter."