While the Broncos eventually fell to the Chiefs on Sunday, there were plenty of positives to take away from the game — particularly the performance of inside linebacker Josey Jewell, who recorded the first two interceptions of his career.
The Broncos did not have answers for quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs through most of the first half, as they trailed 27-0 with under three minutes remaining in the second quarter. But Jewell's leaping interception of Mahomes' pass intended for tight end Travis Kelce provided a spark, and the Broncos proceeded to score 21 unanswered points.
"It feels great," Jewell said of his two picks. "That is what you want. You want the interceptions, the sacks and the tackles for loss as a linebacker. But at the end of the day, I would have rather won than got both of those."
The coaching staff has consistently praised Jewell throughout the season for his leadership on the defense, and Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said after the game that he was instrumental in allowing the Broncos to battle back.
"[Jewell's] been great," Hackett said. "… He runs the whole thing. We call the play into him, and he keeps those guys together. It's a testament to him, with the defense — the whole defense, as a group, being able to get out there, communicate, play [a] very, very good offense, getting down by that much and still battling through it, being in the right place at the right time. So, our coaches did a great job — I mean, to pick off Patrick Mahomes three times, is impressive. [CB] Pat [Surtain II] got his first one, which was great to see also, which gave us a chance to get some points. It was a great job by both guys. They did a great job."
Jewell noted that the Broncos' 27-point deficit did not faze them; the players and coaches know how much talent they have on the roster, and it is just a matter of closing out games.
"We have seen that stuff before," Jewell said. "We know what we are capable of, especially on defense. The offense can be great. They showed that today, they got some great movement. We just needed one more stop, it is that simple. We needed to eliminate some of those mistakes."
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Another player who contributed a game-changing play was running back Marlon Mack, who took quarterback Russell Wilson's screen pass 66 yards to the house and brought the Broncos within one score. It was Mack's first touchdown since 2019, and he expressed gratitude for the opportunity to take the field again after a long recovery from his Achilles injury in 2020.
"It was definitely a great feeling," Mack said after the game. "Just going out there and doing the best I can do to help this team get a 'W.' It was a great feeling to get back out there on the field again."
On his burst down the field, Mack began to lose his balance as he neared the end zone. But, determined to put points on the board for his team, he managed to stay on his feet long enough to dive in for the touchdown.
"Going out there, you have to keep your feet and use all of your speed, because you don't get too many chances with the whole field like that," Mack said. "You just have to use your speed and keep your balance."