DENVER — Thirty minutes before their son took the field as Thursday night's starting quarterback, Daryl and Michelle Sloter stood near the north end zone.
This wasn't a normal night for the Sloters. Far from it.
Paxton Lynch's mom set the couple up with pregame field passes, and they watched as their 23-year-old son warmed up ahead of a moment that had been dreamed up two years earlier.
When Kyle transferred to the University of Northern Colorado from Southern Mississippi ahead of the 2015 season, he and his parents drove past Sports Authority Field at Mile High on their way to Greeley.
"When we dropped him off at UNC, we drove past here on the way to a restaurant," Michelle said. "And we said, jokingly, 'Kyle, you might be playing there someday.'
"And so it's weird to see he's actually here. It's crazy."
Their evening in Denver came together with some hasty preparation.
The Sloters flew in Thursday from Atlanta, and they met more than a dozen family members in the Mile High City.
Before the game began, they were already overwhelmed. As Thursday's No. 1 took his practice reps as No. 1, his parents could hardly believe the moment in which they found themselves.
"Honestly, very crazy," Daryl said. "To see his face up there and to see him out on the field doing this, it's every kid's dream. We're thrilled to be here."
And that all came before Sloter delivered a 15-of-23 performance for 220 yards, one touchdown and a 110.8 quarterback rating.
His night, which began with two sacks and a safety, was steady — if not spectacular — the rest of the way.
After he led a field goal drive to essentially end the first quarter, he tacked on back-to-back 32-yard completions with just under five minutes remaining in the first half.
The Broncos would end that drive with a Stevan Ridley touchdown run to take a 10-2 lead. The final, with Sloter behind the helm, would be 30-2.
"I think that me and [Quarterbacks] Coach [Bill] Musgrave, he was calling the game today instead of [Offensive Coordinator] Coach [Mike] McCoy," Sloter said. "I think we both got in a rhythm, we got some plays that I was more comfortable with and then we were able to open it up a little bit once I saw the ball go into the receivers hands a couple times. It was a rough start, and I have to be better there. No excuses on that, but it's a learning experience. I'm just going to hopefully continue to get better."
The Denver Broncos closed their preseason slate with a contest against the Arizona Cardinals. (Photos by Gabriel Christus, unless noted)
There were highlights, sure. He hit Jordan Taylor down the middle and threaded passes to Anthony Nash and Marlon Brown.
His lone passing touchdown wouldn't come until early in the fourth quarter, but he led scoring drives of varying lengths: 23 yards, 98 yards, 49 yards, 80 yards and 96 yards.
That's not to say Sloter will make the team. Head Coach Vance Joseph said after the game that decision would be made Friday or Saturday. And in his first answer of his press conference, Joseph maintained the quarterback depth chart had not changed.
But in the minutes after the game, as Sloter spoke about his chances to earn a spot on the Broncos' 53-man roster, his disposition seemed to mirror his parents' from before the game.
His performance was impressive. The moment? Even more so.
"I just love playing football," Sloter said. "I feel like it's what I was put on this earth to do, and hopefully I get to do it for a long time. It's been my passion ever since I can remember. Like I said, I hope I'm here in Denver and things work out."
Whether that happens remains to be seen. There are far too many 53-man roster possibilities to be certain of Saturday's outcome. His performance Thursday night, though, is concrete.
And that helps both Sloter and his parents, who all met up after the game.
Because the rest of the situation? That's just too hard to quantify right now for Sloter's parents.
Even after his performance to date, they can't get over the social-media response to Kyle's rise from undrafted training-camp arm to potential Week 1 backup quarterback.
"Unbelievable," Daryl said. "I mean, come on. It's just ridiculous."
"To us, he's just our little boy."
Thursday night in Denver, Kyle Sloter was a whole lot more.