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Top 10 Defensive Plays of the First Half

Posted Nov 1, 2013

A rundown of the top 10 defensive plays from Denver's first eight games.

With the Broncos on their bye week at the midpoint of the 2013 season, DenverBroncos.com is counting down the top 10 offensive, defensive and special-teams plays of the first eight games. The first list looked at the top 10 offensive plays of the season to date.

Here's the order we came up with for the top 10 defensive plays thus far:

10: Kayvon Webster's pass breakup vs. Oakland
On third-and-17 from the Oakland 13, Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor threw a deep pass intended for Brice Butler. Webster came in with a well-timed hit to force the incompletion.

9: Shaun Phillips' sack vs. Baltimore
Phillips burst into the backfield to drop Joe Flacco in the season opener. The linebacker finished with 2.5 sacks in his Broncos debut.

8: Kevin Vickerson's tackle for a loss at N.Y. Giants
With Denver trailing 3-0 in the first quarter against the Giants, Vickerson met running back David Wilson in the backfield on a first-down rush attempt. The 328-pound defensive tackle smothered the 205-pound running back for a 3-yard loss and set the tone for a three-and-out.

7: Von Miller's strip-sack of Robert Griffin III vs. Washington
With the Broncos up by a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, Robert Griffin III dropped back to pass from his own 28-yard line. Around the end came Miller, who hit Griffin III and forced the ball loose for his first sack of the season. Derek Wolfe recovered the loose ball and the Broncos would go on to win 45-21.

6: Chris Harris' interception off Tony Carter's deflection at N.Y. Giants
With Denver trailing 3-0 in the first quarter against the Giants, Vickerson met running back David Wilson in the backfield on a first-down rush attempt. The 328-pound defensive tackle smothered the 205-pound running back for a 3-yard loss and set the tone for a three-and-out.

5: Rahim Moore's interception off Terrance Knighton's QB hit vs. Washington
Also in the fourth quarter versus Washington, the Broncos got to Griffin III to force another turnover. This time it was defensive tackle Terrance Knighton bursting through the offensive line to hit Griffin III as he tried to release a pass. The ball floated over the middle of the field and Moore was there to gobble up the interception.

4: Malik Jackson's three-and-out vs. Jacksonville
After Denver increased its lead to two possessions at 28-19, Jacksonville began its ensuing drive from the 20-yard line after a touchback on the kickoff. Three plays later, the Jaguars were punting thanks to three consecutive big plays from Jackson. On first down the defensive end dropped Chad Henne for a 7-yard loss. He followed that up with a 1-yard tackle for a loss on a Maurice Jones-Drew carry and capped the series with another sack, this one for 5 yards. Three plays, -13 yards courtesy of Jackson.

3: Chris Harris' diving interception vs. Baltimore
After Harris picked off Joe Flacco just before halftime and returned it a franchise-record 98 yards for a score in Week 15 last season, Flacco threw 210 passes without an interception. On pass attempt No. 211, it was Harris who ended the streak with a diving interception that set up a Peyton Manning-to-Julius Thomas touchdown on the next snap to tie the game 7-7.

2: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's 75-yard pick-six vs. Washington
Rodgers-Cromartie put the exclamation mark on the defense's dominating fourth quarter against the Redskins just after the two-minute warning. With backup quarterback Kirk Cousins in the game, Rodgers-Cromartie jumped tight end Jordan Reed's route to come up with the interception and take it 75 yards for a score to give Denver a 45-21 lead that would represent the final margin.

1: Danny Trevathan's diving interception to set up the game-winning field goal at Dallas
The No. 1 play of the first half had equal parts to do with the impressive athleticism as well as the timing. With the game tied at 48 and approaching the two-minute warning, it appeared as though whoever would have ball last would drive for the winning score. On second down from the Dallas 14, Tony Romo dropped back to pass and fired a pass for tight end Gavin Escobar. Trevathan, who had left practice with a knee injury earlier that week, dove in front of the tight end and came up with the interception. That set up Matt Prater's game-winning field goal to deliver a 51-48 victory over the Cowboys.

Let us know what you think of the list in the comment section below. Did we miss any plays? Were any ranked too high or too low? What would your top 10 list look like?