ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With the Broncos trailing 27-7 and facing a critical third-and-1, Russell Wilson dialed up his own number.
Denver had just scored on its previous possession to end the Chiefs' shutout attempt, and a Pat Surtain II interception quickly gave the Broncos the ball back before halftime.
With less than a minute remaining before halftime, Denver held the ball at its own 49-yard line in need of a big yard.
At the snap, Wilson faked a handoff to Latavius Murray and read Frank Clark, who started to crash down toward the running back. By the time he realized Wilson still had the ball, the Broncos' quarterback was off to the races — and he picked up 13 yards to push the Broncos to the edge of field-goal range.
Two plays later, Wilson scrambled again and moved the ball inside the red zone. He would cap the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy to give the Broncos their second touchdown in less than 90 seconds.
Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett called Wilson's read-option call "one of the best play calls of the night," and Wilson's mobility helped spark the Broncos to their best performance of the season.
"I'll tell you, it's exciting," Hackett said Monday. "It's exciting when he takes off. The crowd stands up and nobody knows what's going to happen. He can get explosive runs continuously, and I think that's what was really exciting about what happened with the offense. … He wants to run, and he wants the ball in his hands to be able to throw it or be able to run it."
Wilson also picked up a big first down later, though he would pay the price. On third-and-11 early in the fourth quarter, Wilson scrambled right, dodged a tackle attempt and then sprinted toward the goal line. He dove forward — he seemingly would not have made the line to gain if he slid — and took a hard hit from Clark.
Wilson suffered a concussion on the play and is now in the league's concussion protocol.
The diving effort was the latest example of Wilson's relentless pursuit to help the Broncos get back in the win column.
"I give so much credit to that guy," Hackett said. "He was a dog last night. He wanted to take that game over. He didn't care what the score was. I think you see it, and I think that's something he does when he utilizes his feet. It's exciting — it gives everybody a ton of excitement. You want to follow a guy that's going to do every single thing like he does to be able to extend that drive."
Hackett said Wilson's ability to use his legs was an element of an offensive flurry at the end of the first half and the beginning stages of the third quarter.
"I think when we really got going there, we amped the tempo up some," Hackett said. "I think that really allowed us to get on the ball, really try to be in attack mode. We were down by a lot of points, so we had to get some scores quickly. We know when you're playing the Chiefs, they're going to continually score and they're going to continually be aggressive. I thought that we were calling the game to be aggressive, whether we were even play-actioning and checking it down or taking a shot down the field. I thought guys were able to win on some of their routes. We got some great protection. I felt like our line was in really good shape because we kept going. We had a lot of plays and they continually battled. And I think that was that, and then also Russell taking off and using his feet. We had a couple great scramble drills — I think that was good. All those things that sometimes the play's not going to be perfect, and I think we were able to create even when the play wasn't perfect, and that started with Russ. I think all those things kind of led to those drives being successful."
Wilson posted a season high in rushing yards and rushing yards per attempt. As the Broncos aim to continue their offensive progression, his mobility could remain a key component.