ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Danny Trevathan swears he's snuffed out the showboat in him.
Denver's second-year linebacker blames excitement over his first NFL start for his premature celebration of a sure pick-6 that resulted in a touchback instead of a touchdown in the Broncos' Week 1 rout of the Ravens.
"It was a young mistake. I was just in the moment," Trevathan said. "I thought I was in the end zone. Next time I'm going to hold the ball up high and give it to a fan or something."
After getting burned on the same route earlier, Trevathan stepped in front of running back Ray Rice to pick off Joe Flacco's pass at the Baltimore 30 early in the fourth quarter. He raced down the Ravens' sideline but discarded the ball just shy of the goal line.
That decision left teammate (and fellow former University of Kentucky standout) Wesley Woodyard with an ankle injury, made Brandon Stokley the new Don Beebe and ultimately prevented the Broncos from breaking their franchise record of 50 points scored 50 years ago.
On the other hand, if Trevathan doesn't pull a Leon Lett, maybe Peyton Manning takes the rest of the night off and doesn't get a chance to make history with his seventh touchdown throw later on in Denver's 49-27 win.
Trevathan's miscalculation was reminiscent of Lett's gaffe in the Super Bowl in 1993 when Dallas' defensive lineman was returning a fumble for a score in the Cowboys' 52-17 win over Buffalo. Beebe chased down a hotdogging Lett and knocked the ball loose just before he crossed the goal line.
This time, as Woodyard casually bent down in the end zone to pick up the souvenir for Trevathan, who was celebrating a few feet away, an alert Stokley dived for the football and knocked it out of the back of the end zone.
As Woodyard was helped off the field with an ankle injury, Trevathan got a good chewing out on the sideline from defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
"He said some stuff I knew he was going to say and he said some stuff I didn't know he was going to say," Trevathan recounted. "We get into it but he's a great coach. He played linebacker, so he knows what to do."
Specifically, Del Rio told him to be smarter and finish the right way. Hold on to it all the way back to the sideline, or even spike it. Just don't fumble.
"We practice holding the ball up high, finishing," Trevathan said. "I have to apply that to the field. First game, a lot of stuff was in my way. I played with a lot of emotion. I have to slow down."
When Del Rio was done chewing him out, Trevathan got a good razzing from his teammates, too.
"I'm going to laugh with them and I'm going to get on them, too, about something, but I'm just going to laugh," Trevathan said. "It was on me, it's all on me and I'm going to grow from it."
Coach John Fox trusts there will never be a sequel with Trevathan.
"He's a young player and they're learning, plain and simple," Fox said. "I think it's fair to say I'd be shocked if he ever made that mistake again in his career."
Trevathan is getting his chance to be a bigger part of Denver's defense because of All-Pro Von Miller's suspension and Stewart Bradley's wrist injury.
The Broncos shuffled their linebacker corps this summer when the NFL suspended Miller for six games for violating the league's drug-abuse policy. Nate Irving replaced Miller on the strong side, and when Bradley needed surgery in mid-August, the Broncos moved Woodyard from weakside to the middle and inserted Trevathan, a sixth-round pick out of Kentucky in 2012, into the starting lineup.
"Wesley's ability to move over there in many ways actually might help because I think Trevathan's been pushing to be an every down player, so it allows him to get on the field," said John Lynch. "The ultimate goal is to get your best players on the field."
To stay there, Trevathan has to make good on his promise.
"I wasn't even thinking. I was just running," he said. "It was a dumb play in retrospect. It's not going to happen again."