Call it a night that was 35 months, 28 games, three different teams, three trips through the waiver wire and one stint on injured reserve in the making.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick, who first arrived to the Broncos as a practice squad player late in the 2017 season, finished with six catches for a career-best 113 yards with a touchdown Thursday night during the Broncos’ 37-28 victory over the New York Jets.

In short, a guy who has waited his turn, put in the work and survived quarterback changes, roster cuts and a steady flow of new arrivals at his position — including three rookies this year alone (Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Tyrie Cleveland) — has become a go-to guy in an offense that desperately needs a few right now.

“I really like Tim,” said Broncos coach Vic Fangio after Thursday’s win. “I think Tim is a quality NFL receiver. He’s got size, he’s big, tough, competitive at the ball, good runner with the ball after the catch. I’m not surprised by Tim, I think he’s a quality NFL receiver and I’m really glad that we have him.”

The Broncos’ No. 1 receiver, Courtland Sutton, is on injured reserve after tearing his ACL in the Broncos’ Week 2 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hamler has battled a hamstring injury since training camp — he left Thursday’s game in the second quarter — and the Broncos entered Thursday’s game 30th in the league in scoring and 29th in total offense with Brett Rypien the third different quarterback to start in their four games.

It didn’t keep Patrick, who went undrafted in 2017 coming out of Utah, from stepping in and stepping up for his first career 100-yard game.

“It’s huge, man, it’s even better because of the timing of the plays,” said Patrick, who missed eight weeks with a hand injury last season. “… I just felt like the ball came my way in tough situations and I made the plays and it helped us get the win.”

Patrick’s touchdown against the Jets — a 7-yard throw Rypien fit in between two defensive backs and that was tipped before Patrick reeled it in — pushed the Broncos’ lead to 24-16 in the third quarter. Patrick’s 31-yard catch up the right sideline in the fourth quarter ended a Jets comeback as it led to a Brandon McManus field goal that gave Denver a 30-28 lead with 3:08 to play.

“I tracked [the 31-yard catch] late and it just fell in my lap,” Patrick said. “It was pretty impossible to drop … and on the touchdown [Rypien] just found a way to fit it in.”

Starring in a prime-time game is a long way from being waived by both the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers during his rookie year in 2017 before he found his way to the Broncos practice squad in November that season. Patrick has worked through a coaching change after the 2018 season, three different offensive coordinators and now, with Rypien’s start Thursday, nine different quarterbacks.

“It’s huge, man,” Patrick said. “The playmakers made plays, [Rypien] gave us chances and that’s all we ask for.”

“He’s just consistent, he’s a good pro, he comes in every day and works hard, he’s focused, he’s competitive, all the things you want to see in a receiver,” Rypien said. “In those tight areas or any time I get a one-on-one with him or in the red zone, I feel comfortable that he’s going to make the play.”

With Sutton out until the 2021 season and Hamler’s hamstring a question mark again, the Broncos will need performances like Patrick’s against the Jets.

Patrick is now second on the team in receptions (16) — behind tight end Noah Fant, who left Thursday’s game with an ankle injury — and is tied with Fant for the team lead with two touchdowns.

“I look at it like when the ball comes my way, make a play,” Patrick said. “… I know I’m capable of doing it, it’s just about getting the chance to do it. And [Thursday] I was able to get a chance and I showed what I can do.”



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