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Broncos’ rookie Jerry Jeudy nearly hero in finale

Broncos rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy had no doubt. He wasn’t going to duplicate the egregious performance he put forth last Sunday when he dropped five passes during a 19-16 loss to the rival Chargers. Not against the Raiders on Sunday.

No way. No how.

“The way I’m wired, I knew that the last game — that’s going to be one of the last bad games I’ll have my whole life,” Jeudy said moments after a 32-31 loss to the Raiders. “I learned a lot from that game.”

It certainly seemed like it.

Jeudy concluded his rookie season with six receptions for a season-high 140 yards and a 92-yard touchdown reception that nearly won the game late in the fourth quarter. He didn’t drop a pass and finished his first NFL season with 52 receptions for 856 yards and three TDs, leaving him with plenty to build on.

“I knew Jerry could come out and do this. I knew he was going to come out and do this,” Broncos quarterback Drew Lock said. “There was no doubt in my mind I was going to zing the ball right to him in this game. I trust Jerry with the ball. I’m always going to.”

Jeudy was considered to be the most polished of the rookie receivers. A 6-foot-1-inch, 193-pound technician who utilizes fundamentally sound footwork to separate from defensive backs. He’s capable of running any route on the route tree, and running it quite well.

He was the second receiver selected in April’s NFL draft, going No. 15 overall — three picks after former Alabama teammate and Raiders rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs.

He didn’t have any trouble getting open this season, but he struggled at times to complete catches and finished with nine drops, the second most in the NFL.

Broncos coach Vic Fangio said Jeudy’s outing last week created an opportunity to rebound Sunday. “He obviously did that,” Fangio said.

And he nearly won the game with his longest reception of the season.

On a third-and-10 play with 6:43 to play in the fourth quarter, Jeudy broke free on a deep crossing route and secured an accurately thrown pass from Lock, who finished with a season-high 339 passing yards and two TDs. He ran away from Raiders defensive backs Daryl Worley and Jeff Heath and sprinted down the left sideline to give Denver a 31-24 lead.

“Once I’ve saw that open space, I just said ‘Hit it and let’s score,’” Jeudy said. “That’s all I was thinking about. Score.”

But Denver relinquished the lead on its penultimate defensive series of the season, allowing the Raiders to cover 77 yards in 1:23 without any timeouts. Fangio inexplicably called a timeout on a fourth-and-1 play with 27 seconds left, allowing Las Vegas to adjust its personnel and score the game-tying touchdown.

He also burned his final timeout before the Raiders scored the game-winning tw0-point conversion, leaving Lock and the offense without any timeouts — and squandering Jeudy’s heroics.

“With that little time left, I just thought it was important there to burn the timeout so we were straight with what we were doing and what they were doing,” Fangio explained.

Jeudy caught his final pass of the season on the ensuing possession, a 25-yarder that set up a 63-yard field-goal attempt that was blocked.

“It would be better to close off with a W, but my rookie season, it was a good start,” Jeudy said. “We’re going to see what the future holds.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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