DENVER — There were so many big games by Demaryius Thomas – even if most were bunched in the 2013 and 2014 seasons – that it wasn’t easy coming up with his top 9.
Counting the postseason, D.T. had nine games of at least 10 catches, an incredible 36 games of at least 100 yards receiving and 11 games of at least two touchdowns.
In memoriam of Demaryius, who was unexpectantly found dead Thursday evening, here are the top 9 games in his 9 seasons with the Broncos:
9. Game: Super Bowl XLVIII, 2013 season, lost to Seattle, 43-8, MetLife Stadium
D.T.: 13 catches, 118 yards, 1 TD
The only game on this list in which the Broncos lost. It was a terrible, nightmare for the Broncos but Thomas’ 13 catches set a Super Bowl record. (Later broke by Patriots’ running back James White, who had 14 catches against Atlanta in Super Bowl 51). Afterwards, Demaryius said he’d rather have no catches and win the Super Bowl than a record 13 catches in a Super Bowl loss. That request almost came true two years later when he had just one catch for 8 yards in the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 win.
8. The game: Nov. 1, 2015, beat Green Bay, 29-10, Sports Authority Field at Mile High
D.T.: 8 catches, 168 yards, 0 TD
This was the last time Demaryius had at least 125 yards receiving in victory. This game was significant for other reasons. The Denver D established itself as generational dominant by holding Aaron Rodgers to just 77 yards passing while sacking him three times. Peyton Manning threw for 340 yards – the last 300-yard game and last regular-season win of his career. And the Broncos moved to 7-0.
D.T. didn’t score a touchdown but his 30-yard reception set up first-and-goal and the Broncos’ first touchdown in the first quarter and his 47-yard catch on the first play of the second quarter set up their second touchdown for a 14-0 lead. He later added a 24-yard reception that set up a short Brandon McManus field goal.
7. The game: Nov. 23, 2014, beat Miami, 39-36, Sports Authority Field at Mile High
D.T.: 10 catches, 87 yards, 3 TDs
Demaryius was not only a big-play receiver, he could use his big body to post up and play possession receiver. His touchdown catches were of 5, 14 and 5 yards. The Broncos were in trouble in this game, trailing 28-17 entering the fourth quarter. Thomas’ third touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter starting the comeback.
6. The game: Nov. 10, 2013, beat Chargers, 28-20, Qualcomm Stadium
D.T.: 7 catches, 108 yards, 3 TDs
It was 7-6 midway through the second quarter and then Demaryius, the great finisher, capped three consecutive drives with touchdowns of 11, 7 and 34 yards. Suddenly it was 28-6 Broncos.
5. The game: Sept. 5, 2013, beat Ravens, 49-27, Sports Authority Field at Mile High
D.T.: 5 catches, 161 yards, 2 TDs
Demaryius caught two of Peyton Manning’s 7 touchdown passes, on his way to an NFL-record 55 for the season. That record still stands an even with the expansion to a 17-game schedule no one is on pace to break it this year. Thomas broke the game open with a 78-yard screen and go touchdown to finish the scoring.
4. The game: Oct. 19, 2014, beat San Francisco, 42-17, Sports Authority Field at Mile High
D.T.: 8 catches, 171 yards, 2 TDs
Fittingly, Peyton Manning broke Brett Favre’s career touchdown pass record by throwing the No. 508-tying touchdown to Demaryius on an 8-yard pass late in the first half, then the 509-record-breaking score to Demaryius on a beautifully launched 40-yard strike early in the third quarter. Afterwards, the Broncos’ receiver trio of Demaryius, Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker engaged in a Peyton-scripted, keep-the-milestone-ball-away skit from Manning.
3. The game: Dec. 4, 2011, beat Vikings 35-32, Metrodome
D.T.: 4 catches, 144 yards, 2 TDs
All in the second half. After a rough start to his career because of injuries, this was Demaryius’ breakout game. The offense had 0 points, 1 first down and allowed 2 points on a first-play safety in the first half. D.T.’s receptions from Tim Tebow in succession: 21 yards and a touchdown (third quarter); 41 yards and a touchdown (3rd QTR); 42 yards to set up a touchdown (4Q); 40 yards to set up a field goal (4Q).
2. The game: Oct. 5, 2014, beat Arizona, 41-20, Sports Authority Field at Mile High
D.T.: 8 catches, 226 yards, 2 TDs
Poignantly, this was the game D.T. texted Manning about two days before he was found dead in the bathroom shower of his Georgia home. D.T. had been battling drops through the Broncos’ first three games of the 2014 season but he bounced back in a huge way. Not only were his 226 receiving yards a team record, he had a 77-yard touchdown reception nullified by a chop-block penalty against tight end Julius Thomas. Demaryius’ touchdowns of 31 and 86 yards featured his specialty – yards after the catch.
1. The game: AFC first-round playoff, 2011 season, beat Pittsburgh, 29-23, OT, Sports Authority Field at Mile High
D.T.: 4 catches, 204 yards, 1 TD
50.5 yards per catch. Seriously? Besides his memorable 80-yard walk-off touchdown reception from Tebow on the first play of overtime -- arguably the most enthralling single play in Broncos history -- Thomas caught passes of 51 and 58 yards in the second quarter to set up the Broncos’ first two touchdowns. He also drew two pass interference/defensive holding penalties.
Broncos players, fans remember Demaryius Thomas
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