Fangio hopes big game got Noah Fant 'over the top'

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  • By Grant Gordon NFL.com
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It's been a disappointing season in Denver with plenty of factors at the forefront.

But on Sunday, the Broncos, despite their struggles, having traded away their top veteran receiver and being forced to start a quarterback with no prior starting experience, pulled out a victory over Cleveland.

One of the keys to the 24-19 win was the play of rookie tight end Noah Fant, who had largely underwhelmed ahead of the game.

Broncos first-year coach Vic Fangio believes the performance could certainly bode well for the first-year tight end going forward.

"I think it can," Fangio said Monday, via team transcripts. "I'm a believer in doing it on the field gives you confidence. Not imagining it, not sitting on some psych's couch and not thinking it. You have to go out and do it. He did it [Sunday]."

Fant, the 20th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, hauled in three catches on four targets for 115 yards, which is a high for the season (and his career, obviously), and one huge touchdown. Displaying his big-play ability, Fant scored on a 75-yard grab from Brandon Allen in the second quarter to push the Broncos ahead, 14-3.

It was only the second touchdown of the season for Fant (the first came back in Week 4) and his first 100-yard game, his previous best a far-distant 37-yard outing. It was the best showing for a Broncos tight end (yardage-wise) since Julius Thomas in 2013. The 75-yard sprint also stands as the longest play of the season for a Broncos offense long searching for big plays.

"He's had other times this year where he's done it, albeit inconsistently," Fangio said. "Hopefully this will be a game that can put him over the top and at least he knows he can do it. If a game's not going his way in that regard, he still knows he can do it. The next play might be the one."

The rookie might well have taken his first big step toward showing he's the one the Broncos hoped they were getting when they selected him in the spring.

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