The Denver Broncos edged the New Orleans Saints 25-23 in regulation Sunday because one of their players wore white cleats.
OK, so maybe that’s not the most accurate way to say it. Denver won because its otherworldly defense is, well, otherworldly. But the white shoes played a big part.
The Saints looked like they were going to take the lead on the Broncos with 1:22 remaining in the game. Drew Brees’ 32-yard TD strike to Brandin Cooks tied the game at 23-23. All New Orleans had to do was kick the extra point to take a one-point lead.
Then rookie safety Justin Simmons leapt over the line and blocked the kick. Denver’s other rookie safety, Will Parks, scooped the ball up and returned it for the two-point play.
Along the way, it looked like he stepped on the sideline. The play was reviewed but wasn’t overturned because there wasn’t conclusive evidence. Parks’ white cleats might have factored into that decision.
Parks told Denver 7 after the game that it’s not a mistake he wears white cleats.
So there you have it. The Denver Broncos avoided overtime in New Orleans and improved to 7-3, largely because their rookie safety wore the right-colored cleats. As Al Pacino famously said in “Any Given Sunday,” “Football is a game of inches, and also what color cleats you wear.”
The game-clinching play capped off an excellent day for the Broncos’ secondary. Free safety Darian Stewart had two interceptions and recovered a fumble. Strong safety T.J. Ward recovered another fumble.
All told, the Denver defense forced four turnovers. For the umpteenth time, they bailed out a pedestrian Broncos offense.
Quarterback Trevor Siemian threw two critical interceptions that led to 10 Saints’ points. Denver’s offensive line did a terrible job in pass protection. Siemian was sacked six times and hit 11 times. Denver couldn’t run the ball again, rushing the ball 37 times at 2.8 yards a pop.
But the offense’s poor play didn’t cost Denver the game. The Broncos’ defense kept the team in it, and in the end, Denver found a way to win a close one.
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