Monday night’s narrow, 24-21 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers brings a 1-0 start to the Denver Broncos and an early tie for the AFC West lead.

While the team played well on offense, defense and special teams, there was clearly a need for improvement in all three phases, as the Chargers narrowly completed a fourth-quarter comeback to steal the victory right out from the Broncos’ noses.

On the defensive side of the ball, some of that improvement arrived in the form of defensive end Adam Gotsis, who saw extended playing time on ‘Monday Night Football’ thanks to an alarming spate of injuries along the line.

Starting in the absence of Jared Crick, Gotsis didn’t just show up on the game’s biggest stage; he starred.

Gotsis lead the team with five solo tackles, displaying quickness and burst throughout the duration of the game. The Aussie was able to shed blocks and disrupt plays in the backfield, even if he wasn’t credited with the tackle itself.

Stats can be a great tool to measure a player’s performance, but sometimes they don’t do a player justice. Even though Gotsis didn’t register a sack against the Chargers, he consistently put pressure on quarterback Philip Rivers throughout the game.

Gotsis’ presence in the backfield wasn’t exclusive to Rivers; he was also a force while defending the run, swallowing up blocks and allowing other Broncos defenders to make a play on the ball-carrier. Aside from taking up blocks along the offensive line, Gotsis also consistently shredded the Chargers’ offensive line to either make a tackle in the backfield or force the ball-carrier to reverse his direction, changing the play that was originally intended.

The constant disruption caused by Gotsis prevented both Rivers and the Chargers’ offense from developing a consistent rhythm, especially in the first half of the game.

Since the Broncos selected Gotsis in the second round in the 2016 NFL Draft, they have been patient with his development. Still recovering from a knee injury he suffered in college, Gotsis saw limited playing time in his rookie season during 2016. In the offseason, he suffered a minor injury that kept him out of a portion of the team’s offseason program.

The Broncos’ patience has already paid off, as Gotsis’ five tackles already matches his season total from 2016. Nevertheless, Crick is likely to regain the starting position when he’s healthy, with Gotsis relieving him in the defensive line rotation.

The Broncos now have a short week to prepare for the Dallas Cowboys, where the front seven will have to stop star running back Ezekiel Elliott and face off against the Cowboys’ elite offensive line. It’s a tall task, and the Broncos will need their defensive line to be at full strength to have a chance of winning that matchup.

Only time will tell if Gotsis’ play earns him a starting spot on the defensive line at any point this season. Whether that happens or not, the Broncos appear to have found a solid piece to their defensive line rotation, and one who could very quickly blossom into a young star. Look for no. 99 to continue to make plays for the Broncos’ defense.