Leading by only seven points with just under four minutes left, the Denver Broncos had to keep the ball on offense and play keep-away. On a third-and-17, it appeared bleak that the ball was going back to the San Diego Chargers. Enter Julius Thomas.
The former Portland State basketball star came through in a big way during the Broncos’ Divisional Round win over the Chargers. It will probably be overshadowed by other storylines, but the two catches on the final drive on third down were key. Thomas made sure that the Chargers never saw the ball again on offense.
His first catch that went for 21 yards was perhaps the best catch of the entire game. Had Thomas not dragged his foot, it would more than likely resulted in fourth down, and the Broncos would have to rely on their defense in order to escape with a win. With how the defense was playing in that quarter, that was the last thing the Broncos wanted to do.
While Thomas did not record a touchdown, he redeemed himself after the early mistakes that he made. Early in the second quarter, he fumbled a catch that led to a missed field goal by Nick Novak, which in my opinion was not a fumble to begin with — but that is for another time.
Thomas has developed into a great playmaker for the Broncos’ offense as he was able to catch six passes for 76 yards, none more important than the final two catches that included the nine-yard reception on third-and-six with just a little bit of time left until the two minute warning that served as the final dagger. When the time called, Thomas was there to answer and for that, his team is now playing for a trip to the Super Bowl instead of watching on the couch.