With a handful of seconds remaining on the clock, the Broncos held the ball at midfield facing an eight-point deficit. They’d previously blown an 18-point lead to the Washington Commanders.
The Broncos drew up a Hail Mary and Russell Wilson launched the ball to the end zone. It bounced off of a couple of hands and into Brandon Johnson’s arms for a touchdown.
“It was crazy,” Johnson said after the game. “The old-fashioned Hail Mary went down there. I wasn’t the designated jumper, but I know a lot of times those Hail Mary balls can drop. Once I saw it get tipped, I was like, ‘OK, yeah, I might have this one.’ I was able to pull it in.”
The Broncos had a chance to send the game to overtime. All they needed was a two-point conversion.
Wilson caught the ball in shotgun. He looked at Jerry Jeudy, who was crossing the field from right to left. Jeudy bumped into a linebacker and Wilson moved to his second read; Courtland Sutton’s crossing route in the other direction.
“I think Jeudy actually becomes open,” Payton said after the game. “We come off that and we’re going to Courtland. We’ll see it on tape. I probably didn’t have as good a view as you guys did.”
Jeudy eventually came open, but Wilson jammed the ball in to Sutton… who couldn’t hold on.
But the defender had grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back, making the catch incredibly difficult. The referees decided not to call pass interference.
“Got to find a way [to catch the ball],” Sutton said. “Can’t leave it in the hands of the uncontrollable. Control the controllable and find a way to make a play.”
Even when pushed, Sutton didn’t blame the officials for the non-call.
“There are enough cameras out there and TV coverage that everyone can watch it and figure out for themselves what might have happened,” Sutton said. “All I can talk about it is what I can control, and Russ gave me a chance to make a play and I’ve just got to find a way.”
Pat Surtain II thought he saw pass interference.
“I thought it was, but obviously the ref made a different call,” Surtain said. “In the heat of the moment in a game like that, obviously I thought it would be called, but there is nothing we can do about it now. We just have to look forward to the week ahead and correct that. During that play, I thought he grabbed him a little bit, I thought it would be called, but they didn’t make the call, so we can’t go back and change it now.”
Marvin Mims Jr. felt the same way.
“You know, just a bang-bang play, whether it’s a passing interference or not,” Mims said. “I was expecting it to be a pass interference. A lot of the guys wanted it to be a pass interference to give us another run at it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. So we just got to learn from the game and keep moving forward.”
Jaleel McLaughlin agreed.
“I’ll leave that up to the ref, but you know in my opinion, I thought it was,” he said.
Jonathon Cooper was the most blunt.
“They should have called PI at the end of the game.”