ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — After scoring his first NFL touchdown, Diontae Spencer has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, the NFL announced Wednesday.
Spencer scored the Broncos' first touchdown of the day during Denver's Week 14 game vs. Carolina, as he took a punt 83 yards down the left sideline. The return was the third-longest punt return in the NFL season and tied for the seventh-longest in franchise history. It was also the Broncos' first punt returned for a touchdown since 2015.
"The return we had called, the guys were just supposed to get back and block and it was me just trusting him that they were going to get there," Spencer said after the game. "So, I had a couple peeps, looked down, and felt that I could have caught the ball. Once I did that, I just let everything else take over and got in the end zone. We've been preaching on that pretty much since last year — just me trying to get into the end zone and create a spark for this team. I felt like I did that today."
Spencer, a 2019 Pro Bowl alternate return specialist, is now averaging 17.5 yards per punt return in his second season. He averaged 8 yards per punt return and 29.1 yards per kick return in his first NFL season.
It represents a long journey for Spencer, who originally entered the NFL in 2014. He was waived before the 2014 season and played four seasons in the Canadian Football League before returning to the NFL. In that time, Spencer was a prolific CFL player; he set a league record with 496 all-purpose yards in 2017 and was a CFL All-Star from the East Division in 2017 and 2018.
Upon returning to the NFL in 2019, Spencer was determined to prove his skills would translate at the highest level.
"I take a lot of pride in what I do," Spencer said. "One of the things I said before this game was just being dynamic and helping the team out any way I could, and I came out today and we put up points up on the board for the special teams. Even from the CFL, I take pride in that. I work on my craft each and every day, and finally it happened."
The last Broncos return specialist who earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors was Trindon Holliday, who won in 2013 (Week 2 vs. Giants) and 2012 (Week 9 vs. Cincinnati).
This is also the third time this year that a Bronco has won AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, as Brandon McManus won it in Week 4 and Week 6.