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'I think it was poetic justice': Justin Simmons snags clinching interception to cap strong defensive performance

DENVER —Justin Simmons got his interception.

It didn't come as soon as he would've liked, but he got it — and it came at an opportune time.

With the Dolphins trailing by seven and facing a third-and-8 from the Denver 15-yard line, Simmons undercut Ryan Fitzpatrick's throw to DeVante Parker in the end zone to secure the Broncos' 20-13 win over Miami.

It was the kind of play the Broncos have come to expect from the 2019 second-team All-Pro safety.

"To see the play that Justin made, I'm not shocked," Malik Reed said. "He makes plays like that week in, week out. He's one of the best safeties in the league, and I stand by that."

Simmons now has four interceptions this season and is tied for the second-most interceptions by a Bronco in his first five seasons since the 1970 merger.

He nearly pushed his season total to five or six, as he picked off Tua Tagovailoa in the first quarter but had it overturned due to a defensive holding call on A.J. Bouye. Then, in the second quarter, Simmons tried to undercut a Tagovailoa pass to Mike Gesicki, and it appeared both players had possession for a moment.

Yet while Simmons and the Broncos wouldn't record the first interception of Tagovailoa this season, they made the play when it mattered.

"It was a great play by him," Head Coach Vic Fangio said of the interception. "He had one earlier in the game that was negated. Justin is a great player, and we love having him. He came close [on] a few … earlier beside the one he lost to the penalty. I think it was poetic justice that he was able to get the game-winner."

It also was a weight off Melvin Gordon III's shoulders, who lost a goal-line fumble that gave Miami a chance for the final drive.

"I was happy as hell," Gordon said. "It was crazy because it's something I work on every week, something I think about, and something I try to be really cautious about. ... The defense came through, and we prevailed and got the win. I'm happy about that."

In between Simmons' would-be pick and his game-ending pick, the rest of the Broncos' defense clamped down on Miami's offense that ranked ninth in points per game entering Sunday's contest.

The Broncos forced a season-high five three-and-outs and limited the Dolphins to 105 net yards through three quarters. Tagovailoa was sacked six times and was just 11-of-20 for 83 yards and a touchdown before he was benched early in the fourth quarter.

"We knew he was going to be the catalyst for their offense, and we knew they were going to try to start the run game and go out there and have him — with his big arm and the way he moves around," Bradley Chubb said. "We just wanted to get to him early and try to rattle him up a lit bit early, and we I feel like we did that. You saw for the rest of the game, we kept getting back there. I felt like the key was to just keep him in the pocket and once we did that, those hits started to add up and it was good for us."

Fitzpatrick found more success as he led the Dolphins on one scoring drive and nearly tied the game late, but the Broncos' defense was ready for a situation that they prepared for during the week.

"I kind of thought that way all week, [that] if we played well, they would put him in," Fangio said. "Tua had only played three games so Fitzpatrick was on a lot of the cut-ups we watched and the film we watched. I watched them myself on the side. I just kind of had a feeling we would see him if we played good."

Denver played well, as the defense repeatedly forced Miami into third-and-long situations and clamped down against the run. After allowing more than 200 rushing yards in two of the last three games, the Broncos gave up just 56 yards on 17 carries.

After allowing more than 30 points in each of their last four games, that helped the Broncos allow just 13 points on Sunday. His late interception helped guarantee that point total would remain at 13 — and that a win would accompany it.

"It was kind of just being angry about how last week went down and we just know we're better than that," Simmons said. "… We just knew all week, like, man, we're capable of winning, we just got to play the type of football that we know we can play."

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