Ramik Wilson stayed around the play, followed it, and when the opportunity presented itself he took full advantage.
The same could be said of Wilson’s season.
In the micro, Wilson found himself trailing a play that started when Chris Jones sacked and stripped Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch. The ball bounded away past a couple of players but not Wilson who scooped an scored from 11 yards to help the Chiefs end the regular season with a 27-24 victory over the Denver Broncos.
“Anything to help contribute, I’m all for it,” Wilson said. “We had great pressure by Chris. I saw it and went for it. I had to capitalize.”
Wilson had the second touchdown of a three-year NFL career in which he was a starter for most of 2016 but had recorded only 60 defensive snaps on this season before Sunday.
But with the Chiefs locked into their playoff spot, the finale was going to bring opportunity to Wilson and many others on the second and third lines of the depth chart. Hints of what was to come came when the Chiefs’ inactive list was announced some 90 minutes before kickoff.
Front liners Marcus Peters, Travis Kelce, Ron Parker, Derrick Johnson and Bennie Logan would not play, joining Tyreek Hill and Charcandrick West, who didn’t make the trip.
On defense, none of the regulars started. Jones, cornerback Steven Nelson and one or two other regulars pitched in more than expected because of injuries.
Rookie cornerback Leon McQuay made his NFL debut. He made a couple of hard tackles, but came out of the game after one of them to be checked for a concussion. Tackle Justin Hamilton, acquired earlier this year, saw his first action with the Chiefs. So did cornerback Keith Reaser. Rookies Tanoh Kpassagnon and Ukeme Eligwe manned outside linebacker most of the game.
Terrance Smith and Wilson got the start at inside linebacker, and they teamed up for a drive-halting interception late in the second quarter when a Lynch pass deflected off Wilson’s arms and into Smith’s hands.
The reserves got the word about the play early in the week.
“It gave us time to prepare and game plan, us and the rest of the guys, so we were ready to go,” Wilson said.
The Chiefs came up with three takeaways and recorded five sacks, two by Kpassagnon and one each by Eligwe and Reaser, in addition to Jones’ big play. The defensive side of the postgame locker room celebrated loudly, but Wilson seemed content with a more subdued approach.
“Today felt real good, great,” Wilson said. “It’s been a while. We finished out on a good note, and we got the opportunity to show what we could do. This was a great team win.”