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There was no better example of the roller coaster of emotions that NFL fans go through than the Denver Broncos-Washington Commanders game on Sunday, ending with an insane Hail Mary touchdown.
Most people, myself included, expected a low-scoring affair between two teams with strong defenses and big-time question marks on offense. But that didn’t happen. Quite the opposite, in fact. This game was downright fun.
Denver scored 16 points in a Week 1 loss against the Las Vegas Raiders. They nearly matched that in the first quarter against the Commanders, racing to a 14-3 lead. They didn’t stop there, either, adding a quick touchdown to start the second quarter and stretch that lead to 21-3.
Following a disappointing debut for head coach Sean Payton, the Broncos offense finally did what everyone (except me) expected them to do: score more points than last year. After all, Payton criticized former head coach Nathaniel Hackett for his poor offense last season.
However, the Washington Commanders didn’t just sit down and die. They came back firing, scoring 11 points in the final two minutes of the first half. That cut the deficit to seven points. Unfortunately, they lost tight end Logan Thomas to a concussion after he was BLOWN UP by Broncos safety Kareem Jackson.
The Broncos lost Jackson, too, as referees ejected him for the hit.
The Commanders scored a touchdown on the first drive of the second half, tying the game. The Broncos added a field goal to take the lead back before the Commanders scored a touchdown to take their first lead of the contest.
Denver Broncos, Washington Commanders engage in exciting back-and-forth game that ends on a Hail Mary
They added another score to push the lead to 35-24 and appeared to secure a massive come-from-behind victory.
The Broncos kicked a late field goal to cut the lead to eight points, but failed to recover the onside kick. Again, the game appeared to be over.
But the Commanders couldn’t completely run out the clock, giving the ball back to the Broncos at their own 13-yard line with just 48 seconds left and no timeouts.
Denver got the ball to midfield and had time for one final Hail Mary heave to the endzone. Russell Wilson’s throw didn’t quite make it to the endzone … but the ball got batted into the air and somehow found the hands of Denver wide receiver Brandon Johnson.
Incredibly, the Broncos scored a Hail Mary touchdown with no time left. But, they trailed by two points. They needed a 2-point conversion to force overtime.
Unfortunately, Wilson couldn’t hit Courtland Sutton — who just might have been interfered with by the Commanders defense — and the game ended.
Broncos fans went from certain they were going to win (up three scores) to thinking they were definitely going to lose (down 11 with under two minutes left) to thinking they had just forced overtime to absolute heartbreak — and extreme anger at the referees.
NFL fandom is not for the faint of heart.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak