After three consecutive wins, the Denver Broncos are making a push to get back into the AFC playoff picture. A crucial factor in Denver’s turnaround from a 1-5 start has been the play of the defense, which has conceded an average of just 16.75 points over its last four games, after giving up 36.2 over the first five.
The Broncos’ defense is led by 2020 Pro Bowler, three-time second-team All-Pro safety and team captain Justin Simmons.
The 29-year-old mainstay in the Broncos’ secondary leads the entire NFL with 30 interceptions since his rookie season in in 2016, as he nabbed another one in Denver’s latest win, a 24-22 road victory against the Buffalo Bills on “Monday Night Football.” It marked his third pick in his last four games.
Justin Simmons INT! The @Broncos defense has back-to-back takeaways.
— NFL (@NFL) November 14, 2023
“Defensively man, taking the ball away against that team is really hard to do,” Simmons told NFL Network’s Omar Ruiz in the locker room after the game, while wearing a cross necklace. When asked about a playoff push, Simmons said the Broncos were “super close, and we didn’t play by any means perfect tonight, but that’s what’s encouraging.”
If Denver were to continue its strong second half of the season and earn a playoff spot, it would be a first in Simmons’ eight-year career.
He’s experienced a “first” this year already when he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording an interception, a fumble recovery, a pass breakup and two tackles in Denver’s 24-9 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 29. That was his fifth interception of Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, the most by any player against the two-time NFL MVP.
In addition to being a defensive leader, Simmons is also a spiritual leader on the Broncos. He has been sustained throughout his NFL career by his faith in Christ, as he explained on the Sports Spectrum Podcast this past May.
“Through [the 2022-23] season,” he said, “I’ve learned more than any other how grateful and thankful I am for God’s provision in men that He’s specifically placed in my life that have helped me view things from a different perspective.”
Denver went 9-7 in Simmons’ first season in the NFL, but the franchise hasn’t achieved a winning season since then. Yet, Simmons has found peace in Christ and His Word through it all.
“I felt like I missed the mark being the hands and feet on [those teams],” Simmons said. “And it’s really cool because it helped me realize through wise counsel and wisdom that it’s in those moments where Jesus can still be preached and His Word can still deliver.”
Simmons has been outspoken about his faith in Christ for years. He describes himself in his X bio as “an imperfect and unworthy follower of Jesus, saved by grace,” and on Instagram as a “child of the King.”
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
Romans 8:11 ESV
— Justin Simmons (@jsimms1119) September 2, 2018
View this post on Instagram
Simmons is also active in the community, starting the Justin Simmons Foundation along with his wife, Taryn, during the COVID pandemic to promote youth sports, education and other initiatives.
“It really just came down to our youth in general and just wanting to help equip our youth in any way possible to help them reach whatever goals and aspirations they have, or they want to have,” Simmons said on a 2021 episode of the Sports Spectrum Podcast.
Simmons and the Broncos will try to make it four in a row on Sunday, which will be Simmons’ 30th birthday, at home against a Minnesota Vikings team that’s won five games in a row. Kickoff is set for 8:20 p.m. ET.
– SS PODCAST: Broncos’ Justin Simmons on expectations, leadership, faith
– Broncos’ Justin Simmons joins elite company with INTs as he plays for God’s glory
– SS PODCAST: Broncos’ Justin Simmons on new contract, trusting God, giving back
– QB Russell Wilson says he plays ‘all for God’s glory’ in return to Seattle
– Jalen Ramsey snags INT in Dolphins debut, grateful for God’s ‘grace and mercy’