The football mistakes that haunted DaeSean Hamilton were finally exorcised Sunday at Mile High.
Begone, drops of Broncos games past. A brighter future awaits the speedy wide receiver.
“It’s like getting a monkey off your back,” Hamilton said. “But at the same time, I know I’ve always been able to do stuff like this.”
The Broncos defeated the Lions 27-17, with their go-ahead touchdown going to Hamilton late in the fourth quarter while knocking on the Detroit doorstep. The second-year player lined up in the slot left of quarterback Drew Lock, motioned inside pre-snap, and caught a forward shovel pass while sprinting right.
Hamilton cut upfield, barreled through a pair of arm tackles, and rolled into the end zone — a touchdown that capped a career day for Hamilton with six catches for 65 yards.
“It was not necessarily waiting, but hoping it was going to happen, staying true to the process and being ready,” Hamilton said. “Obviously, things have been up and down this year.”
An honest assessment when you consider Hamilton began the season climbing out of a deep hole.
In Week 1, the Broncos trailed at the Raiders by a single possession late in the third quarter when Hamilton dropped an easy touchdown pass in the end zone. Oakland won 24-16 and Hamilton told reporters in the visitors’ locker room: “No doubt in my mind I catch that and we win the game.”
Hamilton struggled to find a real niche in the aftermath. His 57 yards against the Jaguars in September marked a previous career-high, but he recorded another drop that Sunday. At home against the Chargers, Hamilton was uncovered deep downfield when a perfect third-down pass from Lock slipped through his fingers.
Teammates say Hamilton never moped, and that his practice playmaking was bound to eventually show up in games. It all came to fruition against the Lions. Hamilton’s first target resulted in a 20-yard completion downfield.
“The guy is super-duper intelligent,” Lock said of Hamilton. “Just being able to have the spatial awareness he does, it helps us out, especially in our type of offense. Him being able to sit up in the zone, feel when a guy is running with him, break off and separate, it makes my life a lot easier as a quarterback. He had a fantastic game today.”
Added coach Vic Fangio: “We’ve helped (Hamilton) schematically, Drew has confidence in him, and he’s done a good job catching the ball of late. On the shovel pass, he had to show some toughness (to get to the goal-line) and he did.”
Broncos’ No. 1 wide receiver Courtland Sutton was blanketed in coverage Sunday by cornerback Darius Slay, opening the door for Hamilton and Tim Patrick (five catches for 48 yards) to flourish. Sutton finished with five receptions for only 48 yards. He didn’t seem to mind.
“I was having so much fun just watching (Hamilton and Patrick) make plays,” Sutton said. “It’s awesome to see that because they deserve that.”
Hamilton told reporters his strong Christian faith allowed him to stay focused during early-season trials. Now, he’ll simply work to block out the outside praise instead of the criticism.
“You learn through the NFL season, the highs-and-lows of it, and how it goes,” Hamilton said. “I learned a lot this year. It’s just a matter of always keeping the faith.”