Just over a month ago, the Broncos’ season looked like it was already over before it could hardly begin.
Russell Wilson and Co. were coming off a “Thursday Night Football” loss to the Chiefs when the team failed to reach 200 total yards and were shut out until six minutes left in the game. Wilson was picked off twice and failed to hit even 100 passing yards. The team’s record dropped to 1-5.
Denver rebounded with a Week 7 win over Green Bay at home, but Sean Payton’s crew came close to blowing the contest. Sitting at 2-5, the Broncos were then facing the daunting task of going against the Chiefs again, followed by a bye week and then the Bills.
It’s safe to say the struggling Denver crew was not expected to sweep the two tough matchups against AFC contenders. Yet, Wilson and the Broncos did just that.
The Broncos stunned the NFL world in Week 8, keeping Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs out of the end zone in a 24-9 win at home. After a bye week in Week 9, Denver traveled to Buffalo last week for “Monday Night Football,” emerging from upstate New York with a 24-22 win thanks to a game-winning field goal by Will Lutz.
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All of a sudden, Wilson, Payton and the Broncos have gone from the laughing stock of the league to just a game out of a playoff spot. Instead of slipping to the bottom of the pack, Denver finds itself right in the thick of a tightly contested AFC playoff picture — and it has the improved play of its quarterback and its defense to thank.
Wilson started the season as part of the problem, but he has since turned things around in his second campaign in Denver. All of a sudden, fans are seeing shades of the old Russ that dominated in Seattle.
There is still work to be done, but back-to-back wins over the Chiefs and Bills was no easy task. Up next for the Broncos is a “Sunday Night Football” matchup at home against the red-hot Vikings.
Russell Wilson stats vs. Chiefs
Wilson did not have an outstanding showing against the Chiefs in their second matchup around, but that’s because he didn’t need one. A strong run game paired with a dominant showing out of Denver’s defense helped lead the team to an upset win over Kansas City.
However, the QB capitalized when the team needed him most. He only attempted 19 passes in the Week 8 win, completing 12 for 114 yards. But three of those catches went for touchdowns, as Wilson found wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and running back Javonte Williams for scores.
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While Wilson did lose a fumble, he finished the game without an interception, which allowed the Broncos to snap their 16-game losing streak against the Chiefs. Again, it was not an overly impressive showing out of the Denver QB, but he took care of the ball for the most part and did not make costly mistakes.
Russell Wilson stats vs. Bills
While Wilson had a quieter day stats-wise in the win over the Chiefs, his performance against the Bills was his best in 2023.
Wilson completed a season-high 82.8 percent of his passes (24 for 29) en route to the upset win over Buffalo. He finished the game with 193 passing yards, two touchdowns, no turnovers and a QBR of 81.0, his highest mark this season.
The highlight of the night came during the second quarter. Denver had the ball at the Buffalo seven-yard line, facing a fourth-and-two. The Bills sent pressure after Wilson, who had to scramble around the pocket and send a last-second toss to Sutton at the back of the end zone.
Sutton made a miraculous play to haul in the catch, helping Denver jump out a 9-0 lead. But it was Wilson that kept the play alive rather than leaving the drive empty handed.
Pressure was a constant for the Denver signal caller against Buffalo. Wilson was pressured on 53 percent of his drop backs, the highest rate he’s faced in a game since 2018. While it resulted in four sacks for the Bills, Wilson was able to persevere through the pass rush.
The Broncos certainly benefited from another turnover-filled affair from Bills QB Josh Allen, plus a couple of bone-headed mistakes by Buffalo on the final drive of the game that led to the Lutz game-winning FG. However, Wilson put them in a position to win, and the Broncos were able to pick up a third consecutive victory.