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Cover 4: Broncos survive back-and-forth 37-28 game to pick up first win

For the better part of three quarters, the Broncos appeared headed for their first win of the season with relatively little drama.

Brett Rypien looked in control during his first start at quarterback, the Broncos' defense largely flustered Sam Darnold — and Joe Flacco when he manned the offense for two series — and Denver got the ball to its playmakers in Jerry Jeudy, Melvin Gordon III and Tim Patrick.

Then, it almost fell apart, as Rypien threw a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions — the first of which was a pick-six — that allowed the Jets to climb back into the game after facing a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit.

New York took a 28-27 lead with 6:23 to play, but the Broncos were able to piece together a nine-play, 40-yard drive that ended with a 53-yard Brandon McManus field goal.

Denver took a two-point lead with 3:08 to play, and this time, the Broncos were able to hold onto a late lead as Bradley Chubb sacked Darnold on a fourth-and-3.

Gordon then iced the game with a 43-yard touchdown run with 1:48 to play.

These were the players and plays that defined the Broncos' 37-28 win.

Game-changing moment

This game wasn't decided until the final moments. On the Broncos' go-ahead drive late in the fourth quarter, Rypien and DaeSean Hamilton couldn't connect on a deep pass that would've been a touchdown, but Rypien didn't take long to rebound. On third-and-7 with the Broncos trailing by two points, Rypien found Patrick down the sideline for a 31-yard gain. Denver wouldn't score a touchdown on the drive, but the Broncos were able to add the go-ahead field goal. That would be enough, as Chubb, the 2018 fifth-overall pick, sacked Darnold, the 2018 third-overall pick, on fourth down. Gordon's touchdown then ended New York's chances with 1:48 to play.

Defining statistic


The Broncos' offense wasn't perfect on Thursday night, but they didn't need to be. That's because the Jets' defense bailed them out at times with six personal foul penalties. On several occasions, the Broncos would have been forced off the field — including on their go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter — and they were saved by roughing the passer or facemask penalties. Without those penalties, it's possible the Broncos wouldn't have had enough offensive firepower.

Memorable highlight

I mean, do I even have to say it? Jerry Jeudy's first career touchdown catch was so good, LeBron James chimed in from the NBA bubble. Rypien launched a pass down the right sideline that was a little bit underthrown, but Jeudy stopped and reached over Pierre Desir and took the ball away. With Desir on the ground, Jeudy stared back at him for a second before turning into the end zone. He then broke out the first touchdown dance of his career as he put the Broncos ahead for the first time on Thursday.

Top performers

Brett Rypien struggled in the fourth quarter, but he still threw two touchdowns in his first career NFL start and earned the win.

Jerry Jeudy got on the board with his first career touchdown, as we highlighted above. He finished with two catches for 61 yards and the score.

Melvin Gordon III became the fifth active player to reach 50 combined touchdowns — rushing or receiving — in his career. He ran the ball 23 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns.

Last year in Week 4, Bradley Chubb tore his ACL against the Jaguars. This year in Week 4, he recorded his first sack since the injury, added a second sack later in the game and tallied a hat trick to give the Broncos a key fourth-quarter stop. He finished the game with 2.5 official sacks.

Josey Jewell added two sacks and Alexander Johnson added another as the Broncos tallied six quarterback takedowns.

Brandon McManus drilled kicks from 40 yards, 54 yards and 53 yards. The final field goal but the Broncos on top for good. A week ago, McManus made a 56-yarder.

Tim Patrick caught a game-high six catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.

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