The Broncos defense has been criticized going back to their first round playoff exit in January. Their defense let Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco make plays whenever he wanted, and that’s why the Ravens went on to defeat the Broncos in the divisional round.
Until the Broncos improve in that area and make an impact in the playoffs, they will be a question mark heading to the playoffs. That’s why now is the time to start peaking with the playoffs coming soon.
Last night was a good start for the Broncos defense. They stood out in the Broncos’ 27-17 victory over the Chiefs in the AFC West showdown.
The Broncos defense did not let Alex Smith do much in this contest. They were able to force him to throw passes that was nowhere close. He was hit five times, and he was sacked three times. Shaun Phillips, Danny Trevathan and Wesley Woodyard did a good job of shadowing the Chiefs quarterback all night long.
The Chiefs’ offense is Jamaal Charles. In the first nine games, he was their leading receiver with 47 catches in the Chiefs’ first nine games. Stop him, and a team stops the Chiefs offense altogether. He did not make much of an impact in last night’s game after rushing for 78 yards. That was the key to the Broncos’ victory, and that’s where the Broncos defense deserves credit.
Chris Harris Jr. did a yeoman work on Dwayne Bowe by limiting the Chiefs wide receiver to four receptions and one touchdown.
The Broncos defense made an impact on the scoreboard couple of times.
The first one came in the first quarter when Trevathan forced Sherman to fumble the ball by knocking him down, and Quentin Jammer picked up the fumble that gave the Broncos the football at the Broncos’ 16-yard line. That set the stage for a Broncos touchdown few plays later when Peyton Manning threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Julius Thomas to give the Broncos a 10-0 lead.
That defensive play by Trevathan and Jammer gave the much-maligned Broncos defensive unit the confidence they needed in this game. It had the unit believing they can be effective. One can say that play set the tone for what was to come in the game.
Another one came when the Broncos defense stopped Charles at 3rd and 1 on the Broncos’ 1 in the second quarter. That forced the Chiefs to kick the field goal rather than score a touchdown that would have cut the Broncos’ lead to 3. For the Broncos to take a 17-10 lead after the field goal, there’s no question the defense could take a bow for making that play. That was the turning point of the game.
From there, the Broncos took off. The Chiefs struggled to throw the ball and run the ball for the entire second half. When Montee Ball ran for an eight-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to extend the Broncos’ lead to 24-10, it was game, set and match.
The Broncos defense could rest easy knowing they did their job. They knew Smith was not good enough to engineer a comeback.
Critics will say the Chiefs offense is not that good, but this should not diminish what the Broncos did defensively. Charles and Bowe are good enough offensively to do damage. That has to count for something.
In a league where offense dominates, nothing comes easy for a defensive unit. A team has to be that bad to not to do well offensively, and the Chiefs are not a hideous team. That’s why there is no need to the discredit the Broncos defense.
The Broncos defensive unit has pride. They don’t want to be along for the ride. They want to make their mark and earn their money. They want the credit for winning games. They don’t like to hear that they are bend but don’t break defense. They don’t want their manhood tested in a sport that is full of testosterone. They know they are good enough to stop anyone, and they want to show it. That’s why last night was a showcase game for them.
They made a good case of how good they can be last night. They played with emotion and purpose.
Now, it’s about sustaining this for the rest of the season. Sunday should be a nice test when they face a good offensive team in the Patriots at Foxborough.
If the Broncos defensive unit can duplicate last night’s effort in Sunday’s game, that unit may finally have something going for them.
Contact or follow Leslie Monteiro at @LightRodWriter