DENVER (AP) — Just when he started to look like his vintage self — scrambling for first downs and diving for the goal line — Russell Wilson was knocked out of the game with a concussion Sunday.
Wilson, who hasn’t had a lot of things go his way in his first season in Denver, left the Broncos’ 34-28 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs after suffering a head injury at the end of a 14-yard scramble to the Kansas City 2 early in the fourth quarter.
Wilson had rallied the Broncos (3-10) from a 27-0 deficit with a trio of touchdown drives. His backup, Brett Rypien, threw a touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy after replacing Wilson, but the Broncos came up short.
They’ve now lost seven one-score games this season and have dropped 14 straight to the Chiefs (10-3).
“This team, we never finish how we want to. But one thing I can say for sure is that we never quit,” said Jeudy, who caught eight passes for 73 yards and three touchdowns. “We just keep fighting throughout the whole game, even when we’re down 27-0. If there’s time on the clock, there’s time to win the game.”
Early on, it was ugly for Wilson, just like it’s been most of the season.
His short pass in the second quarter was tipped by Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay, who then hauled it in, broke through a Wilson tackle and raced for a 47-yard touchdown that made it 27-0.
But Wilson rebounded. He threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns — he had eight TD passes entering the game. He was the team’s leading rusher with 57 yards, relying on his feet to bail him out of trouble. This was the version of Wilson the Broncos traded for when they sent three players and four premium draft picks to Seattle last spring — and why they signed him to a $245 million extension before the season.
Wilson dove toward the goal line with 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter and was stopped by a wall of Chiefs defenders. He stayed down for a moment before getting up, dazed. There was a chunk of grass stuck to the right side of his helmet and it appeared he tried to get back into the huddle before he was escorted to the sideline.
Rypien entered the game while Wilson went into the blue medical tent. Rypien completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jeudy on fourth down to get Denver within 34-28. Wilson stepped out of the tent just as Jeudy was making the catch.
“The guy’s out there battling his (rear) off to try to win the game,” Rypien said of Wilson. “That, to me, is somebody I want to follow.”
Defensive end Frank Clark, who had one of the six sacks on Wilson, said the Chiefs dodged a colossal collapse.
“It could have simply and easily gone the other way, if Russell Wilson hadn’t gotten hurt,” Clark said.
First-year Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said Wilson has entered the concussion protocol. His status for the game next Sunday against Arizona is uncertain and Rypien might have to make his second start of the season.
“He was fighting the whole game. I give him so much credit,” Hackett said of Wilson. “He was playing really well.”
The Broncos were without many of their top receivers. The latest to be sidelined is Courtland Sutton (hamstring). That left pretty much a bunch of young targets and former first-round pick Jeudy, who fought through early frustration to turn in a big game.
It’s just the way the season has gone for the Broncos, who spotted the Chiefs a big lead, picked off Patrick Mahomes three times and heard fans oscillate between boos and cheers as they rallied to make it close.
“We had opportunities to continue to win that game. I appreciate that,” Hackett said. “That is kind of that moral victory, but we want to win the game. We had a chance to, but I’ll tell you the fight that these guys have is awesome.”