Broncos Start Game Against Lions With Touching Tribute to Demaryius Thomas

The Broncos (7-6) took the field with just 10 players on Sunday to honor their former star, who passed away at the age of 33 on Thursday

Teddy Bridgewater of the Denver Broncos kneels during the tribute to Demaryius Thomas
Teddy Bridgewater of the Denver Broncos kneels during the tribute to Demaryius Thomas.
Matthew Stockman/Getty

With the crowd at Empower Field at Mile High chanting “DT, DT,” the Broncos offense took the field with just 10 men yesterday following a pre-game moment of silence and video tribute to deceased Denver wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.

As the crowd continue to chant, the Lions did their part to honor Thomas and declined a five-yard delay of game penalty following Denver’s planned missing-man formation.

“That was for DT,” Lions coach Dan Campbell, who was informed by his Denver counterpart Vic Fangio about the plan on Saturday, said afterward. “That’s who I did that for.”

Wearing Thomas’s No. 88 on their helmets after it had also been painted in a special spot on the field, the Broncos played an inspired game against the visiting Lions and won 38-10 in a blowout that was capped off with an 88-yard touchdown drive.

“You could just feel the outpouring of love and sadness within the Denver community,” Fangio said. “We wanted to [pay] tribute [to] him any way we could.”

Bronco running backs Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon each scored a pair of touchdowns in the win, and the Denver defense also had a pair of takeaways, rushing over to the No. 88 logo painted on the field after each. On the second occasion — a fourth-quarter interception by Justin Simmons — the celebration seemed especially special.

“Ever since we found out either Thursday night or Friday morning, as a defense, we talked about how every takeaway we were going to dedicate and give every ball to D.T.,” Simmons said. “We all made sure [we knew] where the logo — the number — was at. That’s what happened. I made the play, and I kind of blacked out. The only thing I thought of was heading over there to D.T. and giving him the football. It was tough, man. I think one of the toughest things was having a real relationship with him. He meant a lot to me and my career. He really shaped me into not only the player, but the man that I am. It was tough. I’m really thankful for the time that I had to spend with him.”

The Broncos (7-6) should continue to honor the memory of Thomas, who finished his 10-season NFL career with 724 receptions for 9,763 yards and 63 touchdowns, throughout the season both on and off of the field.

“The best way to honor his legacy is to go out and play great football,” said Denver quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

The Broncos will host the Bengals next weekend at Mile High.

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