Broncos honor Demaryius Thomas with 38-10 rout of the Lions

Dec 12, 2021, 2:26 AM | Updated: 6:27 pm
A man paints a picture at a memorial for Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas before an NF...

A man paints a picture at a memorial for Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas before an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Denver. Thomas died earlier this week. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — The grief-stricken Denver Broncos honored the late Demaryius Thomas by wearing his number on their helmets, his jersey on their backs and his memory in their hearts.

They knelt in tribute to his number 88 painted on their sideline and didn’t bother fighting back the tears during a moment of silence or the string of highlights shown on the scoreboard Sunday.

It was through their play that they best celebrated their fallen friend and retired receiver who died at his Georgia home on Thursday at age 33.

“The best way to honor his legacy is to go out and play great football,” quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said after the Broncos routed the Detroit Lions 38-10, a thrashing capped appropriately with an 88-yard touchdown drive.

“He probably was out there with us,” said choked-up receiver Tim Patrick.

After the moment of silence and a video tribute, the Broncos (7-6) took the field with just 10 men in honor of Thomas. As the crowd chanted, “DT! DT!” the Lions (1-11-1) declined the delay of game penalty.

“That was for DT,” said Lions coach Dan Campbell. “That’s who I did that for.”

Broncos coach Vic Fangio, who called his counterpart Saturday to tell him about the planned missing man formation, called it “a classy move on his part. And the Detroit Lions, they’re a classy organization.”

Running backs Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon each scored a pair of touchdowns and Dre’Mont Jones had a monster game that included two sacks of Jared Goff.

Like so many of their fans, several Broncos arrived at the stadium wearing No. 88 jerseys and kicker Brandon McManus donned custom cleats featuring Thomas’ famous mile-wide smile during the game.

About an hour before kickoff, local artist Armando Silva delivered a portrait of Thomas he painted in the parking lot to the Broncos’ locker room. That was followed by a pregame moment of silence and a video tribute featuring Thomas’ 80-yard touchdown catch from Tim Tebow in overtime against the Steelers on Jan. 8, 2012.

Notorious slow starters, the Broncos scored touchdowns on their first two drives, Williams on a 5-yard run in which he carried safeties Dean Marlowe and Jalen Elliott across the goal line with him, and Gordon on a 1-yard run after a three-and-out by Detroit.

The first quarter ended with the Broncos holding a 14-0 lead, an 11-0 advantage in first downs and a yardage disparity of 135 to minus-1.

Their fortunes also flipped when the teams switched sides, however, and Goff quickly drove the Lions downfield and hit Kalif Raymond for the score from 7 yards out.

The Lions pulled to 14-10 on Riley Patterson’s 36-yard field goal, but the Broncos went into the locker room up 17-10 on McManus’ 52-yarder as the first half expired.

The Lions, coming off their first win but hit hard by COVID-19 last week — they had seven players on the virus list Sunday — coughed up the football on the second snap of the third quarter when Shelby Harris punched the ball from Godwin Igwebuike’s grasp and linebacker Jonathon Cooper recovered at the Detroit 30.

Five plays later, Williams caught a 10-yard TD pass from Bridgewater, stretching Denver’s lead to 24-10.

Jones had a dominant series on Detroit’s next drive, dropping Goff for a 9-yard loss on his second sack, stuffing Igwebuike for a 3-yard loss and batting down Goff’s pass on fourth-and-2.

“That was probably the greatest series of my of my career, like middle school included,” Jones said. “That was sweet for me.”

The Broncos took over at the Lions 33 and Gordon ran it in from 14 yards out. Albert Okwuegbunam’s 4-yard TD catch capped an 88-yard drive late in the fourth quarter.

Denver’s defense also had a goal line stand with safety Kareem Jackson breaking up Goff’s pass to tight end Shane Zylstra on fourth-and-goal from the 4.

Midway through the fourth quarter, safety Justin Simmons picked off a pass and immediately darted to a blue circle on Denver’s sideline, placing the ball in the middle of “88” stenciled in white paint.

“All I thought of,” said Simmons, “was heading over there to DT and giving him the football.”

ONE-TWO PUNCH

Gordon, who missed last week’s loss at Kansas City with shoulder and hip injuries, gained 111 yards on 24 carries — 48 hours after saying he knew Broncos fans didn’t want him back after this year because they’re enamored with Williams, who ran for 73 yards on 15 attempts to go with his 10-yard TD grab.

COVID SUBS

With D’Andre Swift (shoulder) still sidelined, RB Craig Reynolds was among a slew of players called up from Detroit’s practice squad and he ran for 83 yards on 11 carries Sunday.

INJURIES

The Lions lost CB Jerry Jacobs (knee) and LB Alex Anzalone (ankle) in the game. Broncos ILB Kenny Young was evaluated for a concussion.

UP NEXT

The Lions host the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 19. Detroit has the league’s worst record, and Arizona (10-2) has the NFL’s best mark entering its Monday night game against the Rams. “I believe we can play with anybody,” Goff said.

The Broncos host the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 19.

___

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

New York Mets' Brandon Nimmo celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run during the fourth i...
Associated Press

Nimmo, Mets keep NL East hopes going for now, top Nats 4-2

NEW YORK (AP) — Brandon Nimmo homered and drove in three runs as the New York Mets kept their NL East hopes going for the moment, beating the Washington Nationals 4-2 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader. The Atlanta Braves began the day with a magic number of one for winning the division […]
17 hours ago
Braylon Sheffield, 14, of Fort Myers, Fla., shows one of the balls given to him by New York Yankees...
Associated Press

Teen from hurricane-hit Florida catches HR, meets Yankees

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — A mother-son trip to a major league game for a Florida family in need of diversion after their home was hit by Hurricane Ian turned into much more on Tuesday afternoon. Samantha Sheffield and 14-year-old son Braylon were in town from storm-ravaged Fort Myers, sitting in the lower deck in left […]
17 hours ago
FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2019, file photo, United States' Becky Sauerbrunn is shown during an intern...
Associated Press

US players ‘horrified’ by report of abuse in women’s soccer

As the United States was preparing for its game Friday against England at Wembley Stadium, players were trying to process an investigation that found emotional abuse and sexual misconduct are systemic in women’s soccer. “We are horrified and heartbroken and frustrated and exhausted and really, really angry,” said defender Becky Sauerbrunn. Former acting U.S. Attorney […]
17 hours ago
Fans eat and watch the big screen before the NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in T...
Associated Press

Bowman and Ware to miss Charlotte race with injuries

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Alex Bowman and Cody Shane Ware will miss this weekend’s NASCAR race because of injuries suffered driving the new Next Gen car. Bowman will miss a second consecutive race with a concussion. Ware said he’s skipping Sunday’s race on The Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway because his broken right foot can’t […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Viewers flock to Weather Channel for Hurricane Ian coverage

NEW YORK (AP) — The Weather Channel reached its biggest audience in five years last week when Hurricane Ian made its destructive landfall in western Florida. The average audience of 3.4 million people last Wednesday was more than any other day for the network since Hurricane Harvey deluged Texas with record amounts of rainfall in […]
17 hours ago
Grounds crew members place a tarp over the infield at Oriole Park at Camden Yards during a rain del...
Associated Press

Blue Jays-Orioles game rained out, doubleheader on Wednesday

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays were rained out Tuesday night and are scheduled to play a doubleheader Wednesday to end the regular season. There is little significance to these last two games. The Blue Jays have clinched the top wild card in the American League, and the Orioles are assured […]
17 hours ago
Broncos honor Demaryius Thomas with 38-10 rout of the Lions