Broncos top winless Jets 37-28 for first victory of season

Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick catches a pass in the end zone for a touchdown during the second half of the team's NFL football game against the New York Jets on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J.

Wishes were fulfilled.

After an exchange of pleasantries early Wednesday morning with my neighbor, the last thing I said to Tim Patrick was: “Have a great game.’’

The wide receiver, who was walking his dog before driving to the Broncos’ charter trip to New Jersey, replied: “I just want us to get a 'W'."

Patrick played a great game and the Broncos defeated the New York Jets, 37-28.

Tim, who has a father named Tim and a younger brother named Tim, finally has arrived in the NFL. Released by three teams, including the Broncos, in 2017, the former walk-on at the University of Utah and undrafted free agent was a stellar start Thursday.

Before this bizarre season began, the 26-year-old Patrick was a cut candidate, a practice squad possibility and, at best, the Broncos’ fifth or sixth receiver.

Now he’s No. 1.

Tim caught the Broncos’ season-best six passes for 113 yards, including a 40-yard reception, and a pair of critical 7-yard catches, one for a touchdown, while being first-time starter Brett Rypien’s best friend and favorite target in a seesaw sort of game that the Broncos finally won.

The Broncos are 1-3.

Tim and I live on the same floor of a Denver high-rise and have spent the past seven months asking each other about our health and the possibility of the Broncos playing football this season.

He genuinely is one of the good guys who has overcome so many obstacles and injuries.

“I really like Tim,’’ coach Vic Fangio said. “He’s a quality NFL receiver. I’m not surprised by what he’s done. I’m glad we have him.’’

Patrick was picked out by Rypien on seven occasions. He caught the half dozen, and his defender was called for holding on the other play. He averaged 18.8 yards per catch and now has 742 yards in three roller-coaster seasons with the Broncos.

“He’s consistent,’’ Rypien said of Patrick. They’ve worked together on a thousand connections in practices as backups. “He’s a good pro who comes in every day and works all the time. I can throw to him in those tight windows.’’

It took quite a while for Patrick to get here.

Born and raised primarily by his grandmother in San Diego, Tim, whose father and mother spent time in jail, didn’t get one major college offer out of high school. He finally went off to junior college for one year, then ended up in Utah, where after one impressive practice, was given a scholarship. However, he missed 17 games because of injuries.

Tim wasn’t invited to the NFL combine or to any NFL headquarters for a tryout. The Ravens ultimately signed him in May and let him go in July. The 49ers signed Patrick a day later, then said goodbye before the season started. The Broncos picked up Patrick in October and dropped him in November. However, the Broncos did think enough of Patrick to bring him back, and he played in all 16 games as a special-teamer in 2018, but only eight last year because of another injury.

With the addition of three rookie draft choices this year, Patrick generally was on the outside looking in, but survived.

During the past seven troubled months, Tim, his dog and I have talked often.

The dog and the underdog are constant companions.

Because of an injury to No. 1 starter Courtland Sutton, Patrick was elevated to starter and produced excellent efforts, even in three opening defeats.

He was masterful Thursday night.

Tim caught the 7-yard touchdown pass that put the Broncos ahead to stay.

“I’ve always thought I was capable, and I got the chance tonight, and made the plays,’’ Patrick said afterward, while wearing a San Diego Padres cap.

On the 40-yard completion, “(Rypien) laid it in there,’’ and on the touchdown pass, Patrick worked himself open and flashed brilliantly.

“Now we got to keep stacking wins.’’

Patrick summarized by saying: “It wasn’t perfect, but we found a way to get the 'W'."

Just as we discussed on Wednesday morning. Tim Patrick played the greatest game of his pro career, and the Broncos wound up with the “W." Tim’s dog will be proud. Wish both of them well.

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