DENVER, Colo. — A win is a win.

It wasn’t always pretty but the Broncos beat the Texans 16-9 on Sunday at Empower Field in Denver. The game was a grind from start to finish and the Broncos had to overcome a deficit heading into the fourth quarter.

Here’s how the team graded out:


Russell Wilson – C+

The stats are bad but there’s at least a little more to the story.

Wilson was put in some bad positions. For example, he threw five passes deep in the red zone. Those are tough throws and three had bad breaks otherwise they could have been touchdowns. He was without his second, third and fourth receivers, too. And don’t forget about the drops.

Still, Wilson wasn’t his sharp self. He probably could have led Jerry Jeudy better on the crosser when the receiver was injured.

He also took advantage of his free plays and had a great ball to Eric Saubert for a touchdown.

Javonte Williams – B

Javonte Williams had a great day, but he wasn’t perfect.

LAte in the first quarter, he ran right instead of hitting a massive hole to the left. He gained five yards but he was probably guaranteed at least 10 if he went the other way. On a 3rd & 1, he bounced further outside instead of taking the yard in front of him for the first down. It worked out just fine, but he put the drive in jeopardy. He also had a couple of balls hit his hands but not stick. He had a false start, too.

But that’s nit-picking, and it’s more to show just how good Williams is: he had a good day and it’s easy to see how it could have been even better.

Williams was as physical as ever and made a few defenders fly by, too. He had a great blitz pickup. He finished with 75 yards on 15 carries, and his average was hurt by the Broncos’ three runs at the end of the game as they tried to run out the clock.

Melvin Gordon – B-

Gordon ran hard and made something out of nothing on numbers occasions. Somehow, he was still outplayed by Javonte Williams.

His 10 carries for 47 yards might not sound like much, but Gordon looked like the best version of himself with the ball in his hands.

Two penalties (a hold and a chop block) knock him down considerably. Credit to Gordon for being 35 yards downfield blocking for Montrell Washington on the holding call, though.

Andrew Beck – C-

A drawn pass interference salvaged the day for beck. We aren’t going to dock any points for the fullback option, though.

Albert Okwuegbunam – D

On a night when the Broncos needed somebody to step up and catch some passes, Albert Okwuegbunam was not up to the task.

The biggest mistake was a drop on 3rd & 11. Okwuegbunam probably wouldn’t have picked up the first down but he would’ve definitely gotten the Broncos into field goal range.

The Broncos didn’t ask Okwuegbunam to block much (only 28% of his snaps came on run plays) but he made a couple of mistakes. Javonte Williams was held to three yards because of one missed block from OKwuegbunam.

Eric Saubert – B+

When you have the only touchdown in the game, you’ve gotta get at least a B+.

The touchdown came up the seam and ended with a great catch over the defender.

But there were some miscues, too. Like when Saubert attempted a cut block in the third quarter but the defender was still able to bring down Melvin Gordon.

Garett Bolles – A

Quiet is a good thing when it comes to Bolles. He avoided penalties and made a couple of solid blocks in the running game. He didn’t allow a pressure.

Dalton Risner – B

The guard gave up a sack but otherwise had a solid night.

Lloyd Cushenberry – C-

The third-year center made a few really good blocks but made some mistakes, too. The loudest mistake was a holding on the first play of the second half. He didn’t always sustain his blocks as long as you’d like and didn’t always get to the second level and find work.

Graham Glasgow – C-

It was another tough outing in the running game for Glasgow. He got beat a couple of times and didn’t get much push on his good blocks. The pass-blocking was solid. He had a false start.

Cam Fleming – D+

The second outing for the 30-year-old tackle wasn’t nearly as clean as the first.

Fleming struggled in pass protection, giving up a pressure that forced an incompletion and a sack on back-to-back plays. Those weren’t the only times he allowed a rusher to get to the quarterback.

The real problem was that Fleming came back to Earth as a run blocker. He led the way on a 9-yard run to open the game but didn’t have much else to hang his hat on. He also got bullied on a couple of occasions, including on a 6-yard run in the third quarter that could’ve gone for more. Even the fullback option could have worked if Fleming hadn’t been pushed into the backfield. But I doubt it.

Courtland Sutton – A

When Jerry Jeudy went down, Courtland Sutton stepped up.

The fifth-year receiver beat up on rookie cornerback Derek Stingley all night. He caught seven passes for 122 yards and he picked up another 52 yards on pass interference penalties. He pulled in a fade at the goal line but couldn’t quite get his second foot down in bounds. Sutton caught a ball on just about every route you could think of.

The one flaw was a personal foul for blocking a defensive back 10 yards down the white strip on the sideline.

Jerry Jeudy – B

The Broncos star third-year receiver left the game in the second quarter with an injury but he was off to a solid start. He made a great block on the first play of the game, which was a run to his side. On the second drive, he found space across the middle on a drag route to catch a ball and pick up the first down. He wasn’t able to bring in the catch on the dig route when he got hurt, but he won’t lose points for that.

Tyrie Cleveland – C

The third-year receiver saw expanded work on Sunday because of the injury. It didn’t go great. He was the second-leading receiver with two catches for 28 yards but the most memorable play was the drop on third down when he was bailed out by an unrelated holding call.

Cleveland was sharp on special teams, including a great block on the second punt return of the game that allowed Montrell Washington to return the kick.


D.J. Jones – B+

The veteran defensive lineman forced the Texans’ opening three-and-out when he chased down a toss play from the far side on third down. He didn’t make much noise on the stat sheet but he as a consistent disruptive presence throughout the night.

Dre’Mont Jones – A

Whether Jones actually knocked the ball out of Davis Mills’ hand is up for debate, but he earned the credit for the strip sack. He had another sack on a twist up the middle that you cannot debate. He had a great tackle for loss when he blew up a run up the middle. His facemask penalty cost the Broncos five yards.

DeShawn Williams – B

The veteran defensive lineman made his presence felt on the first play of the game when he had ahold of the running back who was the target of a screen, forcing an incompletion. Williams was moved around a little in the running game but he also got into the backfield to help with a tackle for loss on a first down after the Texans made their way within five yards of the end zone. Overall, a solid day.

Randy Gregory – A-

Randy Gregory was Randy Gregory.

When the defense stood a running back up, Gregory ran into the scrum with his fists flying trying to knock the ball out. When an opposing lineman was called for a hold, Gregory stood right next to him with his hand over the tackle’s head pointing at him.

And he made plays, too.

He had a strip-sack, tackle for loss and three more quarterback hits.

Bradley Chubb – B

The outside linebacker wasn’t as flashy this time around but he was around the ball all night. He provided a few pressures and was able to set the edge in the run game.

Baron Browning – B+

The second-year linebacker saw more work this week, especially as a pass rusher. He provided a pressure while rushing the B gap that forced a third-down throwaway. He got into the backfield on a couple of other occasions.

Alex Singleton – B+

The veteran linebacker was on the field for almost the entire game, and for good reason. He made a couple of plays in coverage—he was able to carry a crosser across the field and deny a passing lane, and then a few plays later he left in the air to get a hand on a ball down the seam behind his zone. He was stout against the run, too, with five tackles.

Jonas Griffith – D+

The 25-year-old’s athleticism was obvious on a couple of plays, including when he mirrored a tight end to the flat and dropped him immediately after the catch. On other occasions Griffith looked lost, including on a Brandin Cooks crosser when he didn’t notice the receiver was about to fly by him.

Pat Surtain – B

The second-year cornerback saw his night end early but he looked a lot like he did in Week 1 when he was on the field. He gave up five yards on the first play of the game then six yards on the ensuing third down. The Broncos asked him to play off coverage though, so you can’t really blame him.

Ronald Darby – A

Darby was almost invisible, which is a good thing. He gave up three catches for seven yards and made some great tackles.

K’Waun Williams – B+

Williams had a solid, but quiet, outing.

He played the angles well on a screen pass to set up a tackle for Ronald Darby. He forced an incompletion across the middle at the sticks despite giving up inside position. On a similar play on the next drive, he was able to climb on the tight end’s back and make the tackle despite give up the catch.

Damarri Mathis – B+

Subbing in for Pat Surtain is a tall task but the rookie cornerback held his own.

The play of his day was a bass breakup on a corner from about five yards from the end zone. Mathis closed well and got a hand on the ball. He made some really solid tackles, too.

He was able to trigger forward and take down a receiver just short of the sticks on a 3rd & 7 slant. The gain allowed the offense to convert the fourth-down conversion on the next play, though. He also got beat by Brandin Cooks on a goal-line zig but Cooks couldn’t bring in the catch.

Caden Sterns – C+

Sterns had a solid day filling in for Justin Simmons. He made a couple of really good tackles but he also was a step behind where Simmons probably would have been in coverage a couple of times.

Kareem Jackson – B-

The veteran safety had a great cover when targeted on a slot fade, and didn’t give up a catch the other time he was targeted.

Special Teams

Brandon McManus – A

Three-for-three on field goals, including a 50-yarder. One-for-one on extra points. Can’t ask for more than that.

Corliss Waitman – D+

Waitman had a tough night. He had balls land at the five and the one and bounce straight into the end zone. He also had a 33-yard dud.

Montrell Washington – B+

The rookie returner bounced back from a poor Week 1 performance by flashing some moves in Week 2. He made a couple of defenders miss on both of his first two punt returns and finished by averaging 14.8 yards per return. He didn’t break any long ones but he was consistent throughout the night.

Washington also had a 39-yard end-around called back because of a penalty and he almost brought in an end zone fade but didn’t have space to tap his toes. In his defense, that’s not really his game.


Henry was born in Columbia Falls, Montana and graduated from Columbia Falls High School in 2015. He earned bachelor's degrees in journalism and economics from the University of Montana in 2019. After graduation, he joined DNVR. He spent three years covering the University of Colorado before moving to the Broncos beat ahead of the 2022 season. Henry joined DNVR as a remote staff writer in 2017, providing support to BSN's Broncos beat reporters. He interned at DNVR headquarters in the summer of 2018 and accepted a full-time position after graduating from UM. Follow Henry on Twitter - @HenryChisholm