DENVER — Three plays into the Broncos' game against the Green Bay Packers, wide receiver Courtland Sutton made the invigorating brand of play that has seemingly become habitual for him this season.
Sutton lined up along the right sideline for Denver's third-and-7 attempt, created a slight window of separation from the Green Bay defender in coverage and extended for a diving catch. The highlight-reel reception kept the Broncos' offense on the field for an opening drive that culminated in a field goal and kick-started the Denver passing game.
After the game, Sutton said the play was emblematic of his role for the offense and within the locker room.
"It was huge to be able to get a touch early in the game [and] get some juice, not only for myself but for the team," Sutton said. "I know the guys look for me to be a guy to go make plays, and it's nice to be able to get the juice going on the offensive side of the ball. We all are looking for that spark, and to be able to make a play [and] stay on the field especially on third down, it was huge."
Sutton continued to make his imprint on the matchup, finishing the afternoon with six receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown reception in the Broncos' 19-17 victory.
Head Coach Sean Payton highlighted Sutton as a game-changer in Denver's first home win of the season.
"Obviously, real big," Payton said of Sutton's performance. "He's a big target. The touchdown he has is on third down, I believe. There's a lot of confidence in his catch radius, and there are some matchups that get created when he's on the field. [I'm] proud of him and he played extremely well."
Just over a week after corralling a touchdown catch with one arm against Kansas City, Sutton found the end zone once again in the third quarter. With pristine blocking from the Broncos' offensive line and effective routes from Denver's receivers that cleared out space, Sutton pulled in an 18-yard pass from quarterback Russell Wilson to put the Broncos ahead by two scores.
The touchdown reception was Sutton's fifth in just seven games this season and put him within one touchdown of tying his career-best for a single season. Wilson said after the game that the play was designed to get Sutton in isolation and take advantage of his unique size and skill set, and Sutton made the most of the opportunity.
Like the opening-drive catch, Sutton contextualized his touchdown reception in terms of his responsibility to his team.
"It's nice to be able to get in the box, but it's not really just for myself," Sutton said. "I love to be able to contribute and help the team be successful. I know that myself, being able to get into the box is what's going to help us be successful."
Wilson praised Sutton's performance throughout the game — Sutton recorded a first down on three of his six receptions — but pointed to the veteran receiver's consistency to explain how he's become as a leader in the Broncos' locker room and a catalyst for their offensive success.
"Courtland, he's been clutch," Wilson said. "He made a huge down-the-field catch early in the game. He did a good job of winning a couple times early, and then late too as well as the game went on.
"He's a consummate pro. You're talking about a professional, a guy that comes in every day with a smile on his face, confident, a guy that leads — that's why he's one of our captains. I think [he's] a guy that no matter what the circumstances are, he's always going to believe. He's one of my favorite teammates that I've played with because he goes up and down the sideline, bringing energy, talking to guys, letting them know what we're going to do. He's like that every day. He's a great leader [and] a great competitor, he made some clutch plays and that was exciting."
Sutton deflected credit for the win after the game, instead underscoring Broncos' unity and resilience as reasons for the victory.
With their first home win now secured, the Broncos will face off against Kansas City in the back half of their home stand before heading into the bye week, and the above traits will be critical for Denver to pull off a win against its division rival.
"Similar to the Bears win, I think that it speaks ... to this locker room and to the guys that we have in this locker room," Sutton said. "I know we all have guys that really believe heavily in what we're capable of doing on the offensive side of the ball [and] the defensive side of the ball. … It's all about the character and the heart that's in this locker room."