Posted Sun Nov 18th by Jon Heath
On a day when the stands at Sports Authority Field were filled with orange jerseys, it was the Blue Crush defense that turned heads—and frequently planted San Diego quarterback Philip River‘s head into the turf.
The Broncos’ (7-3) defense, led by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Von Miller, sacked Rivers four times while forcing three fumbles and two interceptions. In the first half, the Chargers (4-6) averaged 1.9 yards per play—the game was already decided by halftime.
Denver’s defense was on a roll, allowing 0-of-26 third down conversions dating back to their Week 9 match in Cincinnati. It wasn’t until the Chargers’ twelfth third down of the game that San Diego was able to convert for a first down.
Miller recorded three sacks on the day, bringing his season total to 13, which already tops his 2011 total of 11.5. Paired up with his pass rushing teammate Elvis Dumervil, the Dynamic Due has combined to record 20 sacks and 8 forced fumbles this season, helping the Broncos defense to lead the NFL with 35 sacks.
Official tackle for losses statistics are not yet available, but by our unofficial count Miller notched four today, bringing his season total to 26—a league high. Over the past two seasons, Miller has recorded 46 tackles for losses, more than any other player in the NFL. After surpassing Houston’s J.J. Watt (11.5) as the league’s sack leader with 13, Miller appears to be the front runner to win Defensive Player of the Year.
Meanwhile, the Broncos offense was not up to their usual standard, as quarterback Peyton Manning threw a pick six and was sacked in his own end zone for a safety while overthrowing receivers throughout the game. Manning and the offense were not on the same page throughout much of the game, but still managed to hold onto a 30-23 victory as Manning went 25-of-42 for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The victory was Manning’s 148th of his career, tying him for the second-most all-time alongside the legendary John Elway. Only Brett Favre (186) owns more victories than Manning, who owns a better career win percentage (.679) than Favre (.624).
At one point during the game, starting running back Willis McGahee appeared to have injured his knee and the Broncos’ offense was forced to turn to rookie Ronnie Hillman. Struggling in pass protection, Hillman showed flashes of explosiveness (rushing 12 times for 43 yards) but proved incapable of being an every-down back this early in his career if McGahee is going to miss significant time.
Per reports, McGahee will receive an MRI on Monday, but expects the results to be negative. If McGahee is more than just dinged up, expect the Broncos to explore bringing in a veteran back, or at the very least activate Knowshon Moreno next week against Kansas City. McGahee has helped the Broncos’ offense stay balanced this season and the team cannot afford to become one-dimensional on offense.
The Broncos defense certainly outplayed the offense today. If the team is going to make a run deep into the playoffs, however, the offense must capitalize on opportunities and eliminate the little mistakes moving forward. A Week 12 game against the 1-9 Kansas City Chiefs next week will provide the offense the perfect opportunity to get back on the right track—building on their four-game division lead in the AFC West.