ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos have a bad connection they’re trying to get fixed.
It sure looked like a terrific tandem in the making when Demaryius Thomas took Brock Osweiler’s second pass in his first NFL start and raced 48 yards for a touchdown.
To that point, the two had hooked up on eight of nine throws, including an 8-yarder to start that game.
A week earlier, Osweiler replaced an injured Peyton Manning in a game against Kansas City and completed half a dozen throws to the Pro Bowl receiver.
Since that score at Chicago, however, the two haven’t been on the same page.
Thomas has caught just two of the last 19 passes that Osweiler has thrown his way.
After the Broncos handed the Patriots their first loss last weekend during a 30-24 overtime thriller in the snow, Thomas was so dejected that his coach had to comfort him amid the celebration.
“It’s funny how football is. The locker room couldn’t have been more jubilant after the game, and yet you’ve got a player over there who is down because he doesn’t feel good about how he played,” Gary Kubiak said. “As a coach, you feel that, and I talked to him right after the game. We talked the next couple days. That’s part of ball, and that’s why he’s a great player because he wants his team to lean on him.”
Thomas caught just one of 13 passes against New England. He dropped five in what was the worst performance of his stellar six-year career.
He had a couple of nice grabs during the portions of practice that were open to the media this week and his teammates said he had a terrific week or preparation.
“I’m just very impressed with how he’s come back and worked,” Kubiak said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in him and can’t wait to get the ball in his hands this weekend.”
Osweiler makes his third start in place of Manning on Sunday when the Broncos (9-2) play the Chargers (3-8) in San Diego, where a breakout by Thomas would go a long way in helping Denver win a 15th straight divisional road game.
For all his bad connections Sunday night, the one catch Thomas did make proved pivotal in sending the Patriots home no longer unbeaten.
It was a 36-yarder down the right sideline just before the 2-minute warning that sparked Denver’s go-ahead touchdown with 1:09 left. After Brady drove the Patriots to the tying field goal as time expired, the Broncos won it in overtime on C.J. Anderson’s 48-yard run.
“It was a tough one,” said Thomas. “I felt like I let my teammates down besides that one big play. I think the main thing that matters is we got the win and we beat a good team.”
Thomas blamed his yips on a combination of bad weather — “I’m worried about falling and slipping” — and not letting the drops go.
“I think it’s just one of those days,” he said. “I think if you kind of get to that point where you’re always thinking about it, it kind of makes it worse.”
He’ll have better weather on Sunday in sunny Southern California.
Despite catching just 10 of 28 passes thrown to him by Osweiler, nobody has more yards than Thomas since the switch at quarterback, although that comes with a caveat: Emmanuel Sanders had been hurt and he missed the game against the Bears. Against New England, he caught six passes for 113 yards.
Tight ends Vernon Davis (10 catches for 97 yards) and Owen Daniels (10 catches for 131 yards) have thrived with Osweiler under center.
Despite Thomas’ troubles Sunday night, Osweiler never lost faith in him, and that trust paid off in the end.
“Sometimes in football games, it’s not always going to be pretty,” Osweiler said. “I was trying to get the ball to D.T. … Obviously, I think the weather played a little bit of a factor into it. It was tough, but the bottom line is that D.T. made a huge play at the end of the game when we needed him most. I think that’s what great players do.”
By Arnie Stapleton, AP Sports Writer
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