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Published on 05/28/2012 at Mon May 28 12:00.
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Photo Courtesy of John Leyba, The Denver Post

As I sorted out my top Denver Broncos defensive plays it was rather easy at first, until I got to the fifth and final spot. My efforts were severely hampered by a lack of video of some of the plays I had on my short list.  I figured, heck with it, I’ll just pick my favorite defensive play from last season.  The play itself was significant within the game and it was an impressive individual effort by none other than the 2011 Rookie of the Year, Von Miller. 

Situation: The New York Jets and Mark Sanchez try with one last gasp to recover from a masterful 95 yard touchdown drive from Tim Tebow and the Broncos offense.

The Play: Von Miller embarrasses Jets offensive lineman, Wayne Hunter, to sack Sanchez on third down with less than a minute left in the game.

I decided to go with this play mostly because it is still fresh on my mind.  When Tebow ran for that touchdown, my hooting and hollering woke up our two year old and pissed off my wife, but us Broncomaniacs can hardly help ourselves.  As great as that Tebow drive was, it was this play that impressed me the most.   For those younger fans out there, this is the kind of thing we used to see from Lawrence Taylor back in the 1980’s.  It was an impressive display of power and athleticism.

One other play from last year that could have made the list if it hadn’t occurred in a game where the Broncos got destroyed, was Elvis Dumervil’s sack on Tom Brady.  That also never gets old…

Go Broncos!

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  • Anonymous

    I don’t know what 4-3-2 & 1 will be, but for me it’s (in no particular order).

    Atwater annihilating Christen Okoye.

    Mecklenberg pulverizing Macus Allen.

    Dave Costa speering Joe Namath (probably not a lot of folks remember that one, but is was, I believe, on the cover of sport illustrated.

  • Anonymous

    Have to put Champs interception of Brady and returning something like 100 yards!!  

    Can’t wait to see the complete list.

  • Tim Lynch

    I am actually sort of angry at myself right now.  I had “The Fumble” on my list, but I inexplicably looked over it while coming up with my final order.  This Von Miller play shouldn’t even be here – it should be a 93 yard INT from Randy Gradishar.  I’ll make sure to make up for it in my Review post on Saturday.  Total Fail for me. :(   lol  

  • Tom9798

    Tim, this is a tough thread.  There are a 1000 defensive plays that warrant consideration; the list might be a top 100, just given playoff and Super-Bowl appearances.
    Since two people have already rooted for Atwater hitting Okoye, making him think he was in Philadelphia, I will say this is #1 on my list.  I think the TV station showed it a few times . . . and I screamed just as loud each time!
    I will re-post my second favorite . . . .
    This comes at the birth of the NFL Broncos and the “Orange Crush” defense.
    I am at Mile High Stadium (which it will always be) on November 27, 1977.
    The Denver Broncos are 10-1.  So are the Baltimore Colts.  Close game.
    Late in the game, Tom Jackson, OLB, intercepts a pass at midfield,
    Run’s it back for a touchdown!
    This will always be the most exhilarating play I have ever seen.
    We go on to beat the Colts 27-13.  Beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional and the ultra hated Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship; we unfortunately lose to the Dallas Cowboys in Super-Bowl XII.
    I look forward to hearing from everyone what their favorite defensive play was!

  • Tim Lynch

    A big part of this list is also readily available clips to show. needs to get their azz in gear and start offering embeddable videos of the early years.

    I will no doubt disappoint many in this list, but hopefully everyone will see it for what it is meant to be – a time to revisit the past and reminisce about our more favorite moments.

    But yeah, Atwater’s hit was huge – though people forget the Broncos went 5-11 that year. ;)

  • Jon

    Agreed. needs to make their videos embeddable. Big yes.

  • Tom9798

    Tim . . . Hat’s off to you Bud . . . You’re doing a great job as is all the staff of Broncotalk .
    I read and have read Broncotalk since it started.  I will go day’s, week’s, without a reply.
    I don’t always agree and will move on to another thread,
    But I have always logged on and enjoyed the commentary.
    Jiminy Crickets . . . you have 4,500 people on Twitter alone, not to mention all the other social media things going on.
    There is absolutely no way in the world that you will please everyone.
    So write what excites and pleases you . . . the rest of us will log in again in the morning!

  • Anonymous

    Doesn’t matter Tim, still great stuff.  There are so many to choose from.

  • Tim Lynch

    Thanks Tom!

  • Doom92

    This is what I love about this place… All of you guys keep us going just as much in the off season. Most forum boards and the such are pretty dead during the off season and truthfully I don’t even go to any of them any more. But BT is the place. I stopped waiting on the emails along time ago and log in each and every time I get on-line to see if anything is new.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever said thanks to you guys in the year and a half or so I’ve been coming around since finding it but thanks to all you guys (Jon, East, Tim and my personal fav Monty),  for always, whether I agree or not with your opinions, for keeping things going with exceptional postings (articles) and making it interesting. What I enjoy the most is that you guys write with personal interest with fact and heart felt opinion. Unlike typical sports writers who are paid to be Broncos fans and/or think their crap is the Gospel rather than an opinion.

    Huge thanks and kudos guys!!!


  • Doom92

    Back on the topic… ;-).

    My Favorite D play was in a game against the Steelers. I searched for the vid as I’ve seen it played on TV a few times since but couldn’t find it. Any way, Dennis Smith and Billy Thompson sandwich Lynn Swan hard and Swans helmet flew strait up in the air as he crumbled… Have always loved that play and will never forget it.

  • herc_rock

    Yup on the Gradishar play.

  • herc_rock

    Can’t forget Mobles knocking Favre’s pass down on 4th and 6. 

    “oh baby they’re going win this thing!”

  • Aaron McFarland

    I would say this is best defensive play, since the results finally gave us that world championship we hadn’t been able to achieve before this.

  • Tim Lynch

    Thanks man!

  • Tim Lynch

    Hey, thanks for jumping WAY ahead there you two.  lol

  • TD30isMVP

    Won’t be on the list, but this play and the Elway helicopter play made a resounding statement…we are here to play!

  • fiercepika

    I think the “greatest” plays should be reserved for things that demonstrate not only athleticism, but were important within the game and/or in Broncos history.  Atwater’s hit on Okoye is wonderful, but I’m not sure it necessarily qualifies as “greatest”, only “coolest.”  

  • jdkchem

    This is from the Post.  I remember watching this game.  Hard to choose between Dennis Smith and Louis Wright.  If this does not make the list of greatest defensive plays then . . .

    Denver 30, San Diego 24 (OT)

    Nov. 17, 1985

    Dennis Smith blocked three field goals in the game, the last one of
    which was returned by Louis Wright for 60 yards to give Denver an
    improbable overtime victory. Rich Karlis had sent the game into overtime
    on a 34-yard field goal with five seconds left. But San Diego took the
    first overtime possession to the Denver 23. For the second time that
    day, Smith blocked Bob Thomas’ field-goal attempt, but the play was
    nullified because Denver had called a timeout. When play resumed, Smith
    did it a third time, and Wright took care of the rest.

  • jdkchem

    Gradishar should have a category all to himself!  That he has been overlooked for so long is downright criminal.

  • herc_rock

    I think he’s doing an ST list too.  

  • Doom92

    Very welcome Tim…

  • jdkchem

     The Rick Upchurch show?

  • jdkchem

     What do people remember about Okoye?  The hit by Atwater.  Okoye was never effective as an RB after that.

  • Tim Lynch

    I loved that play.  Atwater in a nutshell

  • Tim Lynch

    I mentioned that in the post, but the play by itself is so ingrained in Bronco lore that it must be included.  imo anyway :)