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Defense Delivers

Posted Nov 18, 2011

While Thursday's victory will be remembered for a 95-yard, game-winning drive, it was the defense's performance that helped fuel the win.


DENVER -- Fittingly enough, it was the defense that got to seal Thursday's 17-13 victory against the New York Jets at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The unit celebrated on its home field after ensuring Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez's last-second heave to the end zone fell harmlessly to the turf.

After all, it was that group that forced five three-and-outs, sacked Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez three times, hit him seven more times and intercepted him for a touchdown, consistently giving the offense the ball with good field position.

In short, Eric Decker said, the defense kept the Broncos in the game.

“It’s unbelievable," he said. "The way they’re coming along right now, it’s scary how good they’re getting. It’s just fun to be on their team."

Sunday's win will ultimately be remembered for a 95-yard, game-winning drive orchestrated by Tim Tebow.

But as exciting as the ending was, Head Coach John Fox said the team wouldn't have gotten there if it weren't for the defense.

"They gave us an opportunity," Fox said. "They've done it before all the way back against Cincinnati at the beginning of the season."

"I guess that's why they call it a team game."

Von Miller led the way for the defense with 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, a pass breakup and a forced fumble.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Elvis Dumervil also had 1.5 sacks, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hits. Wesley Woodyard chipped in seven tackles and a stop and forced fumble on special teams. Three other players had at least five tackles -- the list goes on.

"We just wanted to play solid defense," Miller said. "It’s the same formula that we’ve had every week. We’ve got to replicate what the other defense is doing. If they get a three-and-out, we’ve got to get a three-and-out. If they get a defensive score, we’ve got to get a defensive score. I think we had that mindset today.”

A key stretch of the game came in the second and third quarters, when the Broncos offense had five three-and-outs. That allowed the Jets to have nine possessions in those two frames, but the defense didn't let that change its mindset.

In that stretch, the defense allowed 10 points. But it also scored a touchdown of its own when Andre' Goodman returned a Mark Sanchez pass 26 yards for a touchdown. Of the remaining drives, one was stopped before it even started when Woodyard forced a fumble on the kickoff. Three were three-and-outs, one ended in a punt after just one first down and another resulted in a missed field goal.

"‘Whatever it takes’ is our motto on defense, and that’s what we try to do," Robert Ayers said. "Whatever it takes, we have to keep fighting, we have to keep plugging away."

"No matter what happens, no matter what adversity presents itself, just keep on grinding," Miller added.

That's what the unit did, and Champ Bailey said it's one to build on.

"As a defense, we’ve just got to keep the team in the game, because in the fourth quarter you never know what you’re going to get," the team captain said. "We’re never out of it, and it’s a good feeling. I know if we’re close, we’ve got a chance.”