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'Jerry really stepped up': WR Jerry Jeudy shines for Broncos in career-best three-touchdown performance

DENVER — In Sunday's game against the Chiefs, Denver found itself trailing 27-0 near the end of the first half. Facing one of the most electric offenses in the league, the odds of a comeback seemed unthinkable.

The Broncos needed a miracle — and wide receiver Jerry Jeudy nearly delivered.

After missing nearly three games with an ankle injury, Jeudy worked back into the rotation in Week 13 against the Ravens. Playing just 38 percent of the offense's snaps in that game, Jeudy was still able to make an impact, catching all four of his targets for 65 yards.

Jeudy had no limitations in Sunday's game against the Chiefs, and his availability came at a crucial time. With wide receivers Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler on injured reserve and Courtland Sutton inactive due to a hamstring injury, Jeudy had enormous responsibility on his shoulders against a tough division rival.

When the team needed him most, Jeudy delivered a three-touchdown performance.

"I thought Jerry really stepped up," Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said. "With Courtland being down, a lot of guys being down — KJ, Tim, all those guys — Jerry's a guy that had an opportunity. We changed his position this week, and he went out there and he embraced it. It was hard at first because they started doubling him. They were trying to take him away; they knew that we wanted to attack with him. ... But he just kept his head down and kept working, and it showed up with those three touchdowns, which I thought were awesome — especially the one on the fourth-and-[goal from the 7-yard line]. I thought that was an unbelievably critical time, continually battling back. It was great to see."

Jeudy's first two scores came in the final two minutes of the first half. Spurred by clutch interceptions from inside linebacker Josey Jewell and cornerback Pat Surtain II, quarterback Russell Wilson and the Broncos' offense were able to convert the turnovers into touchdowns. On both plays, Wilson hit Jeudy in the end zone.

In the fourth quarter, the Broncos found themselves inside the red zone, facing the aforementioned fourth-and-goal situation from the 7-yard line. Instead of kicking a field goal and cutting the Chiefs' lead to 10, Denver decided to go for it — and it paid off, as quarterback Brett Rypien threw a laser to Jeudy for the wide receiver's third touchdown of the game.

"I think Coach [Hackett] put me in a great position to make plays," Jeudy said. "I feel like everybody's executing on a play to be able to drive the ball and be able to make those plays. Like I said, the O-line did a good job blocking on that play, and the quarterback made the right read and everybody ran a great route to make that play work. That's what helped it out."

Jeudy previously had just three touchdowns on the season; he matched that season-long output on Sunday.

It was not only the first three-touchdown game of Jeudy's career, but it was also the first by a Broncos receiver since Demaryius Thomas in 2014.

Just two days after the anniversary of Thomas' passing, Jeudy's performance could not have been a more fitting tribute to the legendary wide receiver. Throughout his career, Thomas consistently made big-time plays in big-time games — and against the Broncos' longtime AFC West rival, Jeudy honored his legacy.

"It means a lot, especially knowing that it's the anniversary for [the passing of Demaryius Thomas]," Jeudy said. "It just means D.T. was with us today. It means a lot. ... I never really got to meet D.T. personally, but I have heard a lot of great things about him. How [much] of a great person he was. How he always kept a positive energy walking around the facility and obviously, [he was] a great football player. I wish I had the chance to meet him."

Jeudy noted that despite falling short once again, the team's ability to come back from a seemingly impossible deficit speaks volumes about their resilience.

"This team — we never finish how we want to, but one thing I can say for sure is that we never quit," Jeudy said. "We just keep fighting throughout the game. Even when we were down 27-0, [20]-0, we still kept fighting. If there's time on the clock, there's time in the game; there's still a chance."

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