ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Bradley Chubb is finally back.
Four days after Tom Brady lurched just past the line of scrimmage to deny Chubb his first sack in almost a year, Sam Darnold twice slipped the linebacker’s grasp in the Meadowlands.
Chubb got to Darnold three other times, however, including his clinching sack with two minutes left in the Broncos’ 37-28 win over the New York Jets on Thursday night, a year and a day after he suffered a serious knee injury.
“I don’t think he’s back to where he was prior to the injury but we can’t forget that this guy is 11 months removed from his ACL surgery,” coach Vic Fangio said.
Chubb had vowed to come back better than ever, but through the first month, he had just six tackles, three QB hits and zero impact.
When the calendar turned to October, so did Chubb’s fortunes: five tackles, half of Denver’s 10 quarterback hits, and 2½ sacks.
His signature sack came on fourth-and-3 at the 50-yard line and the Broncos clinging to a 30-28 lead just as the clock hit 2:00 remaining. That 7-yard loss preceded Melvin Gordon’s 43-yard TD scamper in which QB Brett Rypien threw a block.
Four times last year and another time this season Denver’s defense failed to close out a close game when a single sack would have done the trick.
This time, Chubb got home.
“It’s huge because all week we talked about how we can’t be the same team that’s up two points and the offense drives down with two minutes left, kicks a field goal, and we lose by one,” Chubb said. “As a defense, we wanted to put the game in our hands and shut everything down.”
Fangio’s blitz-heavy plan rattled Darnold with inside linebackers Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson combining for three sacks and 16 tackles, and defensive end Shelby Harris getting in on one of Chubb’s takedowns.
“It was cool. It was good to see him rattled back there and have the O-line guessing,” Chubb said. “Anytime you bring pressure it opens up lanes for your regular stuff. I feel like it ... helped us get back there a lot and we caused a lot of havoc.”
Rypien became the first QB to win his first NFL start despite throwing three interceptions since Jim Druckenmiller in 1997. He won’t dwell on the negative during the long weekend, however, as Troy Aikman suggested during the telecast: “I’m thinking about how we got the win,” said Rypien.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Although the O-line, which had surrendered 13 sacks and 29 QB hits the previous two games didn’t allow a sack, the struggles continued up front with guards Dalton Risner, who’s regressed in Year 2, and Graham Glasgow, who’s a penalty machine.
WR Tim Patrick has stepped up with Courtland Sutton (knee) out for the year. The undrafted third-year pro from Utah had his first 100-yard game. “I really like Tim. I think he’s a quality NFL receiver,” Fangio said. “He’s got size, he’s big, tough, competitive at the ball. He’s a good runner with the ball after the catch.”
Interior O-line. While LT Garett Bolles continues his rise from penalty prone to solid pass protector, guards Risner and Glasgow are having a difficult time with rookie Lloyd Cushenberry III often getting overwhelmed on stunts and twists. Risner hasn't progressed as expected and Glasgow hasn't lived up to his four-year, $44 million free agent contract. He's been flagged three times in the last two games.
TE Noah Fant (ankle) and WR KJ Hamler (hamstring).
70: games since the Broncos had both a 100-yard receiver and a 100-yard rusher before Gordon (23 runs for 107 yards and two TDs) and Patrick (six catches for 113 yards and a TD) on Thursday night. You have to go all the way back to Peyton Manning’s final regular- season game on Jan. 3, 2016, when Ronnie Hillman (15 carries, 117 yards) and Demaryius Thomas (117 yards on five catches) did it.
The Broncos will have to decide who will start at New England next weekend if Drew Lock (shoulder) is still unavailable. Rypien (1-0) was poised and precise for long stretches, but his QB rating was a modest 67.6 and his trio of interceptions included two really bad decisions. He was quicker with his reads and passes than Jeff Driskel (1-9), and then there’s Blake Bortles (24-49), signed two weeks ago.
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