ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In another strong effort from the Broncos' defense on "Monday Night Football," linebacker Alex Singleton led the way with a standout performance.
Replacing inside linebacker Josey Jewell, who was inactive with a knee injury, Singleton made plays for the defense all night. He totaled 21 tackles against the Chargers — 19 of which were solo— including two tackles for loss. This not only surpassed his previous career-high of 16 tackles in a game, which he recorded as a member of the Eagles in 2020, but it was also the most tackles in a single game by any Broncos player this season. In fact, Singleton's 19 solo tackles and 21 combined tackles are the most by a Bronco since at least 1994, according to Pro Football Reference.
This feat clearly impressed his teammates, as defensive end Dre'Mont Jones approached mid-interview to emphasize Singleton's accomplishment: "He had 21 tackles; that's effing crazy."
While it was an outstanding individual performance, Singleton humbly credited his success to the standard of defensive dominance that his coaches and teammates have worked together to build. The Broncos' defense has allowed the third-fewest total yards and the fourth-fewest points per game in the league this season, consistently playing at a high level — even when facing dynamic offenses like the Chargers'.
"I was honestly just doing my job," Singleton said before practice on Wednesday. "… This defense is, week in and week out, I think we've proved how good of a team we can be. Just having those guys, when plays come to you, it's just your job to make a play, and that's kind of how the game went."
Ahead of the Broncos' matchup with the Chargers, Defensive Coordinator Ejiro Evero expressed complete confidence in Singleton's ability to perform well in place of Jewell. When Jewell missed the first two games of the season with a calf injury, Singleton stepped in and made an impact in his first two regular-season games as a Bronco.
"He's just ready," Evero said Friday. "He came in at Seattle, played well and played well against Houston. When you watch the way that he prepares and the way he goes about it in practice, it's not a surprise that when he gets in those game situations, he's ready."
Take a look inside the Broncos' week of practice with photos from team photographers.
Filling in for Jewell is no easy task; though he has only played in three games this season, Jewell has recorded 1.5 sacks, 30 total tackles, three QB hits, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The team consistently praises Jewell's leadership and communication on the field, and Singleton has aimed to replicate his teammate's presence during the three games Jewell has missed.
Singleton noted that he feels comfortable stepping up into a starting role on the defense when his name is called, as he started 19 games for the Eagles from 2020 to 2021.
"Luckily, the last two or three years I was doing it in Philly, so I know the role that you have to step into," Singleton said. "Just seeing [Jewell], being able to put the same product on tape, you never want it to be a loss when someone goes down, and the team relies on you to step in that spot."
As Singleton recorded his career high in tackles, he had a big group of supporters cheering him on. The linebacker is a native of Thousand Oaks, California — about an hour away from SoFi Stadium — and he brought a large group of family and friends to the game, as well as the football team from his alma mater, Thousand Oaks High School.
Putting on a great performance in front of his family and community was a special moment for Singleton, who noted his appreciation for the fact that the Chargers and Rams are now in Los Angeles.
"It was sweet," Singleton said. "It's obviously a dream — back when I was in high school there wasn't a team in LA, so the fact that there was a team in LA [that we got to play] made it pretty sweet."
Singleton did not have the easiest journey to the NFL, as he signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and was part of the Patriots', Seahawks' and Vikings' practice squads that season, followed by three years playing for the Calgary Stampede of the Canadian Football League. Now in his fourth NFL season, Singleton does not take any opportunities for granted.
"It took me four years trying to get to the NFL, and finally getting to play — four and a half years, really," Singleton said. "Once I knew I got an opportunity, [my mindset has been to] always be prepared for any chance you get, because a lot of people say the NFL's 'Not For Long,' so to be able to do as much as you can to stick around as long as you can, that's the biggest thing and most important thing to me."