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'He just provided a spark': WR Courtland Sutton makes big touchdown grab, posts second 100-yard game of season in return to Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH —If Courtland Sutton felt the pressure, it was sure hard to tell.

At the two-minute warning, with the Broncos trailing by eight points and facing a second-and-4 near midfield, Sutton simply danced along to the music.

The jig is up, the news is out // They've finally found me.

All around Sutton, tens of thousands of Steelers fans twirled their Terrible Towels and sang along as "Renegade" blared through the Heinz Field speakers. 

By that point in the game, the fourth-year receiver had already left his mark. On the previous drive, Sutton dove for a 39-yard touchdown that pulled Denver within five points and reignited their hope in Sunday's game. 

"The touchdown, we needed a big play," Sutton said. "We needed to be able to score quick and give our defense a chance to go out there and stop them so we could get the ball back and have a chance to win the game. We had an opportunity down the sideline and my mindset is obviously make every play. … In that situation, the team needs us to go make a play so we can be in this fight. I just had an opportunity to go make a play and was able to make it." 

In all, he would catch seven passes for 120 yards — tied for the second highest total of his career — and the score.

And while Teddy Bridgewater's final-minute, fourth-down attempt to Sutton was intercepted, Sutton's performance remained impressive.

Get a closer look at Sunday's action against the Pittsburgh Steelers with photos from photographers Gabriel Christus and David Dermer.

There's the granular angle, of course. Sutton suffered an ankle sprain during Friday's practice, yet he fought through the injury to play in Sunday's game. 

"I thought he played well," Head Coach Vic Fangio said. "Didn't look like the ankle was bothering him much. Credit to him for answering."

Sutton was listed as questionable, but he worked out ahead of the game and tied for the team lead with seven catches. 

"Just in practice [I] just came down wrong, rolled it," Sutton said. "Got treatment on it and everything and stayed on top of it from literally the moment it happened Friday to this morning. … I was about to go out there and help the team."

The bigger picture may mean more. A year ago in Pittsburgh, Sutton entered the game with a lingering shoulder injury and then tore his ACL while making the tackle on an interception. Before it really began, his response to his 2019 Pro Bowl campaign was over.

Before Sunday's game, on his 26th birthday, Sutton walked out onto the field in his suit and sat on the bench. For several minutes, he sat alone, perhaps 40 yards from where he suffered the injury. There were no Terrible Towels yet, no "Renegade" pouring out onto the field. In the ultimate team game, Sutton sat by himself for several moments.

And then he went out and delivered for his team.

The Broncos couldn't cap their comeback on Sunday — and the fourth-down catch Sutton didn't make is undoubtedly the play he'd like to make most. 

"At the end of the game, ran a play, the guy made a good play," Sutton said. "It's unfortunate, but he made a good play and it is what it is."

But days after Sutton talked about being the spoon that stirs the drink for the Broncos, their Pro Bowl wide receiver made splash plays.

"He just provided a spark to us," Bridgewater said after Sutton's second 100-yard game of the year, "and hopefully we can just keep the momentum that he has going for the rest of the season."

Regardless of what Sutton does the rest of the year, his performance on Sunday was impressive. Just a year and a few yards away from where he suffered his injury, Sutton left his mark.

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