Towards the end of the Denver Broncos' nearly botched win over the Oakland Raiders, all the hard work running back Phillip Lindsay had put in to get over 1,000 yards rushing looked like it might be for naught. After he was thrown for a 6-yard loss late in the fourth quarter, Lindsay edged closely to dipping back underneath the 1,000-yard benchmark he had just eclipsed a few minutes earlier.
Ultimately, Denver held on to beat the Raiders 16-15, while Lindsay finished the season with 1,011 yards rushing the ball. In achieving back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, he became the first former undrafted player in NFL history to achieve the feat in his first two season. As he approached the record, head coach Vic Fangio was cognizant of what was at stake for Lindsay.
“I was told [he] is the only undrafted player in the history of the NFL to do that,” Fangio said post-game. “That’s a hell of an accomplishment. It’s also not a very good accomplishment for all the people that bypassed him in the draft.”
The Broncos' No. 30 has always used his draft snub as a huge source of inspiration that serves to drive him ever forward in his pursuit of individual and team success. His second consecutive 1,000-yard season proved to be a marathon that tested his abilities and strength to the maximum.
“It feels good, but it was a tough one, it was probably the toughest 1,000 yards I’ve ever had to get in my life, when it comes to football,” Lindsay admitted when speaking after Sunday’s game.
That's saying something, considering the 1,000-yard seasons Lindsay posted in high school, college and now the NFL. The big runs and explosive plays were much fewer and far between in his second year, which is a big reason why he wasn't voted into the Pro Bowl again.
Getting over the hump to the record-breaking total was very much on a knife's edge at times. Lindsay wants to be considered among the NFL's best running backs, which means he has to do more to improve his overall game and skills.
“I need to look at myself in the mirror and find ways to get better in the passing game, the blocking game, and the running game,” Lindsay said, critiquing his performance. “I want to be an elite running back and I want to be a top-5 running back in the league.”
This kind of dedication to his craft is designed with only one thing in mind for next season; getting the Broncos back to the top of the winning pile. By suffering through all the close losses and heartaches in 2019, it will only strengthen their collective resolve to learn from them and turn them into wins in 2020.
“We gave up a lot of games where we were winning the game and, with 30 seconds left, we lost," Lindsay said. "We are going to get a few more pieces [players], which will be exciting, and we’re going to build a Super Bowl team."
What has always endeared the local Colorado boy to his legion of fans are his team-first priorities and humble work ethic. Perhaps this offseason, his lofty goals will win him yet more fans throughout Broncos Country.