DENVER — Courtland Sutton sometimes can’t even explain the plays he makes.
That doesn’t mean he won’t try, though.
Take Sutton’s first touchdown of the day, the one-handed grab with a defender draped all over him. It seems inexplicable, the way Sutton reeled in the ball with his right hand just beyond cornerback Casey Hayward Jr.’s left arm, which was extended right in front of Sutton’s face — and all while Sutton was falling to the ground.
Making big plays like that has become almost pedestrian to Sutton, whether it’s making diving receptions through contact or out-jumping defenders on 50-50 balls. Though he credits his experience and muscle memory tracking passes on routes like that one, Sutton ultimately can’t put his finger on how he makes it happen time after time.
“Being able to make those plays, honestly, it’s beyond me,” Sutton said. “It’s a God-given ability that I can’t really explain what happens. I’m just grateful that I have the ability to do it, for sure."
The Broncos are grateful for it, too — perhaps no one more so than Drew Lock, who connected with Sutton twice for touchdowns.
“Amazing is not even a good word for how great of a catch that was,” Lock said after the game. “He’s been making plays left and right for us, and I think he is a top receiver in this league without a doubt.”
Sutton, for his part, credited Lock and the rest of the offense for creating the opportunity.
“I always try to say, ‘If they can get it close to me, then I’ll try to make a play on it. I’ll definitely try to make a play on it,’” Sutton said. “Drew gave me a chance, and that’s all I can ask — a chance to go make a play. Everybody did what they were supposed to do. The offensive line gave him a chance to throw it, and he gave me a chance to make a play, and I was able to make a play.”
Sutton finished the game with four catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns, his second two-touchdown day of his career.
The second touchdown was much easier. Sutton, who had a flag route on the right side of the field, anticipated being bracketed between a cornerback and safety in the end zone. But as he lined up at the 5-yard line for the snap, he saw the safety appeared to be preparing to cover the flat, giving Sutton a one-on-one opportunity of which he took full advantage.
“Drew and I had talked during the week, and we kind of expected them to try to do some type of bracket on us,” Sutton said. “However, just seeing how they move on defense and everything, we knew that the bracket wasn’t going to happen. We knew that the dude was going to try to [slip] off and go to the flat. I tried to point it out and let Drew know, but he gave me a chance, which is the thing that was awesome. He gave me a chance to go win, and that’s all that I can ask for as a receiver, is the QB to give us a chance.”
Perhaps Sutton’s biggest play of the day didn’t even show up on the stat sheet.
With nine seconds left in the game and the Broncos starting their drive at the 28-yard line, they had just the slimmest chance to win the game in regulation. If they weren’t able to reach the end zone on a deep pass, their only chance would be to get out of bounds almost immediately after making the catch or to quickly call a timeout.
The Broncos got their break when Sutton fought through contact on a deep pass down the right sideline with three seconds left, drawing a pass-interference flag on Hayward. The penalty pushed the Broncos 37 yards down the field and into field-goal position.
“It’s tough for a defensive back right there,” Chris Harris Jr. said. “Just being in that situation, you always want to be deeper than everybody in that situation, and we caught them slipping, and we always want to give Courtland a chance.
“He’s a baby Megatron, and you always have a chance at the 50-50 ball with him.”
After a Chargers timeout, Brandon McManus sent the game-winning attempt sailing through the uprights, and Sutton went home with a win, jumping with joy as he headed to the locker room.
No further explanation needed.