Entering Week 11 at 3-6 and losers of five straight games, many were ready to give up on the Denver Broncos’ season.

As a captain of the offense, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas needed to step up and have a big game if the Broncos were to have any chance of salvaging their disappointing 2017 season. With fellow 2017 offensive captain and former starting quarterback Trevor Siemian inactive for the game, Thomas had to be the on-field leader for the Broncos’ offense.

Despite the outcome of the game, a 20-17 loss, Thomas did what he could — especially in the second half — to put the Broncos in a position to win the game.

To say Thomas got off to a slow start would be an understatement. Thomas did not register a single reception in the first half, as the Broncos’ offense sputtered to only seven first half points. Thomas was only targeted twice, committing a costly drop early in the first quarter.

Even well into the third quarter, Thomas was quiet, registering his first catch of the game with 5:50 left in the quarter. But then, as all leaders do, Thomas stepped up when it mattered most.

For the Broncos to have a shot at winning the game, they needed some sort of touchdown drive. Thomas caught fire during the Broncos’ 11-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in Thomas’ third touchdown catch of the season and third in as many weeks. On that drive, Thomas had three catches for 17, seven and 17 yards. The last produced a touchdown that brought the Broncos within three points of the Bengals.

The touchdown was even more meaningful for Thomas, as it was his 55th touchdown catch as a member of the Broncos. It tied Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe for the second on the Broncos’ all-time touchdown receptions list.

Thomas finished the game with five catches for 64 yards and one touchdown. His explosive second half wasn’t enough for the Broncos to hold off the Bengals.

“TI feel like the effort has been there every week, it’s just the turnovers,” Thomas said postgame. “You can’t win in this game with the turnovers and you can’t win in this game with the negative plays on offense. We do something good on offense and then we go backwards. You can’t beat anybody in the NFL with that–I don’t care how good you defense is; I don’t care how good some of the players you have on your squad are. You can’t do it.”

Denver lost the turnover battle 2-0 on a red zone interception by Brock Osweiler and a fourth-quarter C.J. Anderson fumble.

The entire Broncos’ offense struggled mightily in this game, once again unable to develop consistent drives and finish in the red zone. Behind Thomas’ 64 yards, the next leading receiver for the Broncos was running back Devontae Booker with 54 yards.

Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer contributed only one catch each for 18 and 21 yards, respectively.

The Broncos’ other Pro Bowl wide receiver, Emmanuel Sanders, had only two catches for 15 yards. Sanders was unable to follow up on his solid six-catch, 146-yard performance last week against the Patriots.

The Broncos have struggled all season on offense as the team sinks deeper in the AFC cellar at 3-7. The team has too much talent on offense to have produced so little this season and will likely see many changes as the door on their 2017 playoff aspirations comes to a close.

“I don’t know where we fit, we’re probably close to last,” Thomas said. “I don’t know, but we came out to try to get this one and put ourselves in a position that hopefully we’d get a chance in the playoffs. We still came up short so we’re just going to keep going and we’re going to play the last six games. I hope everybody plays with the fight like they should play and we’ll see what happens from there.”

For now, the Broncos will prepare for a road trip against the AFC West rival Oakland Raiders for their Week 12 matchup.