After the Broncos took a knee to end Sunday’s 23-16 victory, quarterback Peyton Manning handed the ball to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas along with a message.
The message was that Thomas should give the game ball to his mother, who was seeing him play in person for the first time. Katina Smith was released from prison in November after having her sentence for a nonviolent drug offense commuted after 16 years of time behind bars. She was barred from traveling for 60 days, which made Sunday’s game the first she could attend.
Thomas did what Manning told him to do after telling reporters how it felt to finally play in front of his mom.
“It’s very special,” Thomas said, via ESPN.com. “She came out, got to see us win a game, her first time here, her first time seeing me play. It felt great, a really special feeling. … Just excited she was here for her first game. The fact that we came out with a win made it even better.”
Thomas had four catches for 40 yards, passing Rod Smith for the most catches in Broncos postseason history, and a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter to help ensure that his mother saw a winner her first time out.