Surtain wins AFC honor in stride, remains focused on chefs


The Denver Broncos defense celebrates the interception of cornerback Pat Surtain II, center, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, November 28, 2021, in Denver.  (AP Photo / Jack Dempsey)

The Denver Broncos defense celebrates the interception of cornerback Pat Surtain II, center, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, November 28, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo / Jack Dempsey)

PA

Broncos rookie cornerback Pat Surtain II has more pressing issues to deal with than celebrating the AFC Defensive Player of the Week award he won on Wednesday.

While acknowledging “this is a pretty good achievement for me and this team,” Surtain had clearly taken to heart Justin Simmons’ warning to put aside the team’s big win over the Chargers last weekend and to move all in so they can get out of Arrowhead. Stadium with a rare victory on Sunday evening.

The Chiefs (7-4) are preferred to beat the Broncos (6-5) for the 12th time in a row, but if Denver can beat quarterback Patrick Mahomes for the first time in eight tries, they’ll return home atop the AFC West, a sight they haven’t had in December since 2015.

Overthrowing the Chiefs was a priority for new general manager George Paton when he selected Alabama’s fast 6-foot-2, 202-pound cornerback with the ninth draft pick last April.

Paton got around a group of quarterbacks and linebacker Micah Parsons, but he explained that Surtain had been his target from the start and he explained how he got to know his father, Pat Surtain Sr., who played 11 years in the NFL in Miami. and Kansas City, when both worked for the Dolphins.

It was the son’s speed-height combination that really caught his eye. This is so rare with cornerbacks, who are usually fast or long but not both.

Surtain could prove to be the antidote to Kansas City fast receiver Tyreek Hill or Chiefs physical tight end Travis Kelce, both of whom have plagued Denver’s defenses for a long time.

About the only time Surtain’s face lit up on the podium on Wednesday was when he considered facing all this Mahomes-led talent.

“Yeah, they picked up speed like crazy,” Surtain said. “Like world-class speed. We know what we’re going against, we’re going to put on our running shoes.

If Kelce lines up on the outside, Surtain can follow him and has the grasp of undoing Kelce’s infamous hand fight at the top of his route that so often allows him to create just enough space for Mahomes to there. integrates the pass.

“I think using my speed and my length would be an advantage for me,” Surtain said against Kelce.

The Broncos might consider putting Surtain back in the slot where he started the season so he can face Kelce more often, but they should make sure Hill doesn’t make them pay by opening up deeply.

No matter how many times he covers Kelce on Sunday night, Surtain is looking forward to the challenge, he said.

“Yeah, I think it would be a fun game for sure,” Surtain said.

He said the key was “just to play down his big-game potential, re-route him, lose the timing with him and the quarterback, get his hands on him early on.”

It’s something the Broncos have struggled with since the Chiefs passed them as the cream of the division in 2016.

Surtain was everything the front office and the coaching staff envisioned. He’s broken or intercepted 11 assists so far, including a pair of fourth-quarter picks from Justin Herbert in the Broncos’ 28-13 win over the Chargers.

He knocked out Herbert in the end zone early in the fourth quarter and sealed the victory by returning his second interception on 70 yards for a touchdown.

Surtain hit a top speed of 22.07 mph on his pick-6, according to Next Gen Stats, the fastest by a defensive back with the ball in his hands in the past five years.

That makes him the first rookie since Marcus Peters in 2015 for Kansas City to have multiple interceptions, including a pick-6, in the same game.

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