Courtland Sutton's 'spark' not enough to save Denver Broncos

PITTSBURGH -- With their coveted wide receiver depth eroded by injury over the first month of the season, the Denver Broncos crossed some fingers and waved some four-leaf clovers for Courtland Sutton this weekend.

Sutton suffered a sprained ankle during Friday's practice and was added to the team's injury report. He was officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but ended up tying his second-best single game performance, with 120 yards on seven catches during the Broncos' 27-19 loss.

"Court, he just provided a spark for us," quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. "Hopefully we can just keep the momentum that he has."

With wide receivers Jerry Jeudy (ankle) and KJ Hamler (knee) on injured reserve -- Hamler will miss the remainder of the season -- any injury to Sutton at this point is going to cause a significant ripple across the playbook, especially for a team already struggling on offense since halftime of the Week 3 win over the New York Jets.

The Broncos had hoped Sutton could be ready to play on his 26th birthday even as he spent much of Friday evening, Saturday and into Sunday morning with the team's training staff. He tested the ankle almost three hours before Sunday's game and proved he was ready to play -- first with a goal-line to goal-line sprint before going through his customary drills with coaches.

"Just came down wrong [on the ankle], rolled it," Sutton said. "Got treatment, stayed on top of it from, literally the moment it happened Friday until, shoot, [Sunday] morning ... luckily was able to go out there and help the team."

Sutton had his first touchdown of the season -- a diving effort to close out a 39-yard scoring play -- during the Broncos' 13-point fourth quarter. The only game in which he had more yards than Sunday's 120 was his 159-yard effort in Week 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Didn't look like the ankle was bothering him much," said Broncos coach Vic Fangio. "Credit to him for answering."

"We needed a big play, we needed to able to score quick ... so we could have a chance to win the game," Sutton said of his touchdown. "I had the opportunity to go make a play and was able to make it."

The Broncos continue to struggle with slow starts on offense and an uneven look in the passing game at times. But Jeudy, for the first time since he suffered his injury in the season opener, did some pregame work Sunday with the team's strength and conditioning staff.

His return, which Fangio has said he optimistically hopes can be shortly after the Broncos' Week 7 game against the Cleveland Browns, would probably give Sutton more room to work against defenses turning coverages his way much of the time.

"My mindset is to make every play that comes to me," Sutton said.