2. Week 5 vs. New York Jets
The Nathaniel Hackett Bowl.
Some people were calling this the New York Jets' "Super Bowl" in 2023. I tend to agree. Especially after the Jets lost Aaron Rodgers for the season, you knew that this one meant a little extra to them if they weren't going to be able to be legitimate competitors for a playoff spot.
The Jets came into Denver in Week 5 and kicked the Broncos while they were down. Denver was just a couple of weeks removed from giving up 70 points against the Miami Dolphins, and the Jets were clearly motivated to embarrass this team as much as they possibly could.
And to their credit, they played one of the better games they would play all season long. The Broncos were able to get out to a 13-8 lead at halftime of this game, and with Zach Wilson playing QB for the Jets, you figured the Broncos could basically coast to a victory with another couple of field goals in the second half, but the Jets' offense turned up the...jets.
Breece Hall, the Bronco killer, ripped off a 72-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to give the Jets a 15-13 lead. They then ripped off three straight field goal drives to put the Broncos in a tough 24-13 hole against a really good Robert Saleh defense.
But the Broncos battled back. Russell Wilson hit Adam Trautman for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to cut the Jets' lead to just three points after a two-point conversion.
Then, the Broncos got a big play from Pat Surtain II with an interception in coverage against Garrett Wilson. The offense was set up with a 97-yard field to go for the win or tie, but they also had over two minutes on the clock. And that drive got off to a great start.
Russell Wilson hit Brandon Johnson for nine yards. Courtland Sutton for 13. He took a sack on 2nd-and-6 but was able to find Jerry Jeudy for 20 yards on 3rd-and-14. The offense had the ball all the way out to the 41 and with 29 seconds remaining, Russell Wilson scrambled on 2nd down and was stripped from behind. The ball was recovered by the Jets and taken in for a touchdown.
Nathaniel Hackett got the emotional win in his return to Denver, and the Broncos hit rock bottom.
People forget because the final score of this game (21-31 Jets), but the Broncos were really in great position to at least tie it up and get to overtime.