Teddy Bridgewater shows ‘toughness’ in return from injury as Broncos beat Chargers


DENVER — When Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater limped back into the huddle Sunday with a lower right leg injury, he helped the Broncos stay in the AFC’s jumbled playoff race.

So much so that the Broncos, now 6-5 after a 28-14 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Empower Field at Mile High, will face the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday night in Arrowhead Stadium with a chance to move into first place in the AFC West.

“When you win it doesn’t really matter what you’re going through, you feel good,” Bridgewater said. ” … We’ll see how I feel in the morning.”

“Teddy’s toughness is unquestioned when you talk about him and I didn’t question it in the big picture,” said Broncos coach Vic Fangio. “And like I said, some have you have asked me, he’s our quarterback and it’s as simple as that.”

Bridgewater will be evaluated more Monday morning.

Bridgewater, who had come under criticism after the Broncos’ Nov. 14 loss to the Philadelphia when he didn’t attempt to tackle Eagles cornerback Darius Slay on a fumble return for a touchdown, finished 11-of-18 passing for 129 yards and a touchdown Sunday. But it wasn’t the rather pedestrian-looking numbers that continue to endear Bridgewater to his teammates, it’s what they see as his burning desire to help them win.

After the loss to the Eagles, Bridgewater’s teammates vigorously supported him, as well as Fangio, as many cited Bridgewater’s severe leg injury in 2016 — Bridgewater’s surgeon later publicly said the damage was so severe amputation was a concern — as proof of his toughness to return to play.

Bridgewater suffered the injury Sunday when he was sacked by Chargers’ safety Derwin James Jr. with 2 minutes, 13 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Bridgewater limped to the sideline, was examined by the team’s medical staff and taken for an X-ray.

“[It] swells up real quick … he had to take some tests to make sure nothing was happening underneath it,” Fangio said. ” … He toughed it out, he was nowhere near 100 percent in that second half, but he toughed it out and led the offense.”

“I still don’t really know what happened, I just know Derwin kind of got me from behind,” Bridgewater said. ” … I’ll watch it [Monday].”

Drew Lock finished out the first half, as the Broncos finished out the drive Bridgewater was injured with a touchdown eight plays later. But Lock was sacked once and threw an interception in his limited duty that led to the Chargers’ first touchdown.

Asked if it would have made it easier to leave Lock in the game and play it safe on Bridgewater had Lock not throw the interception, into double coverage, Fangio simply said “no.”

Bridgewater returned in the second half and eventually led the Broncos on a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that gave Denver a 21-7 lead with 8:54 to play in the game. He converted two key third downs on the drive — a third-and-7 to go with a third-and-10 — with completions to wide receiver Courtland Sutton and running back Javonte Williams, respectively.

Bridgewater did it in a game when the Broncos also lost two more starters in the offensive line – left tackle Calvin Anderson (left knee) and left guard Dalton Risner (back) leave the game with injuries. Anderson was already playing in place of Garett Bolles, who is on the COVID-19 reserve list.

By game’s end center Lloyd Cushenberry III was the only Week 1 starter in the offensive line who was in the lineup.

“We never question [Bridgewater’s] toughness,” tight end Eric Saubert said of Bridgewater. “That guy he does it all, he pushes through a lot and he’s done it all season.”

Source : ESPN