Give This Much-Maligned Broncos Defense Their Due

Tennessee Titans v Denver BroncosThe Chiefs operated their offense well in the second half of their game against the Broncos yesterday afternoon. They were conversing third downs often in the fourth quarter. They had Broncomaniacs thinking overtime as they were within striking distance of tying the game.

Terrance Knighton had other ideas. The Broncos nose tackle plowed through Chiefs center Rodney Hudson to deflect Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith’s touchdown pass in the Chiefs’ final play of the game.

Knighton’s play was the play of the game, and it helped preserved the Broncos’ 24-17 victory over the Chiefs yesterday afternoon at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

There’s no question Knighton saved Broncos coach John Fox from being criticized in yesterday’s game. The coach did not have a good game after coaching conservatively such as kicking the field goal rather than go for a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that would end the game for good. The nose tackle also saved his defensive unit from taking the blame had the Broncos lost this game.

The Broncos defense had a rough go of it in this game. Smith played like Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning by throwing for 255 yards. He was able to throw for long distance, too. Imagine what Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles could have done if he did not left the game with an ankle injury yesterday afternoon. Odds are he would have run the ball to the end zone in the final play of the game rather than Knighton deflecting Smith’s pass.

The Chiefs wide receivers were able to be open and run for many yardage. There were times where the Broncos defense committed penalties that helped aid the Chiefs drive. It was painful to watch Chiefs wide receivers bully the Broncos secondary.

Despite all that, the Broncos defense deserved to be commended for making plays when it mattered. If they didn’t, the Chiefs would have celebrated a win. The fact that unit held the Chiefs to seven points in the second half speaks well of them.

In the first quarter, the Chiefs moved the ball well where they entered the Broncos territory. The defense forced Smith to a penalty, and that gave the Chiefs a fourth down where they had to punt.

In the third quarter, the Chiefs started the quarter with a 19-play, 10-minute drive. It helped that Broncos defensive end Malik Jackson received a penalty for roughing up Smith. The Broncos had a hard time stopping the Chiefs in third downs. The drive ended when Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall sacked Smith, and then the Chiefs quarterback threw an incomplete pass to Donnie Avery.

Not only did the Chiefs not score a touchdown, but they missed a field goal. They ended up with no points. Talk about buzzkill for them. Talk about momentum changer for the Broncos.

In the final series of the fouth quarter, Smith moved the ball and he was able to get the Chiefs to the Broncos territory after he threw to Kelce at the Broncos’ 35.

DeMarcus Ware forced Smith to fumble after sacking him, and Broncos linebacker Nate Irving recovered the fumble from the Chiefs quarterback. It was time to celebrate until the refs called it an incomplete pass.

Fox, Broncos and Broncomaniacs had to sweat it out until Knighton ended it. Everyone exhaled. It was more of a relief than celebration. It was more like that was close than celebrating a win.

The Broncos defense has been getting by all game, but at some point in the game, they were going to get burned. Teams can only survive for so long.

After Anthony Fasano made a nice leaping catch that gave the Chiefs the first down in the Broncos’ 25, Smith threw a first down to Travis Kelce, who had big enough room to run the Broncos’ 4. Knile Davis finished the deal by running to the end zone. His touchdown cut the Chiefs’ deficit to 21-17.

This defense will not be confused for the Orange Crush. This is a bend but don’t break defense. Still, the new guys such as Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward are still acclimating to their roles on defense. It takes until November for everyone to round into shape. If those three can be comfortable, maybe this defense will be hard-hitting that it would force other teams to turn the ball.

It would be nice if Fox and Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to consistently blitz, but that’s not their game plan to do so consistently. Whatever.

This defense may not be dominating as the Seahawks, but there are not many great defensive teams. This team does have potential. It takes months for this unit to jel. Right now, this unit is a work in progress.

It hasn’t been pretty. The defense deserves criticism. This type of performance in the first two games won’t cut it against a great team like the Seahawks or the 49ers down the road. The Broncos knows it as much as anyone. They don’t need to be reminded by the fans.

Still, it’s only fair to acknowledge this unit for coming through when it mattered.

This unit did more than the offense in the second half in this win by the Broncos.

Contact or Follow Leslie Monteiro: @LightRodWriter

Leslie Monteiro

Leslie Monteiro

Leslie is a contributor for Lightning Rod Sports. He covered high school sports in Bergen County out in North Jersey, and has written op-ed columns on sports such as Bleacher Report and NY Sports Digest.

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