ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- You couldn't sling a towel around the Broncos' locker room at Reliant Stadium after Sunday's 37-13 roasting of the Houston Texans without finding a player who credited
It's true that Adams' play -- which was set up by pressure from
But the play was set up by the back-to-back sacks on the previous possession, which in turn was set up by the attention given to
By this point in the game, Williams already had a sack and a tackle for a loss, and was successfully disrupting the Texans' blocking scheme. So when Matt Schaub and Houston had second-and-6 at the Denver 28, rising momentum and the chance to at least get a game-tying field goal, Williams' pass-rushing threat was going to be taken seriously.
So seriously, in fact, that when Williams rushed Schaub on the play from right defensive tackle, the entire left flank of Houston's offensive line engaged with Williams -- most importantly, left tackle Duane Brown. This left
At the same time, Knighton bulled his way past center Chris Myers, arriving just a fraction of a second after Ayers. Knighton was in a one-on-one duel with the 286-pound Myers, whose size is typical of centers in offenses run by Mike Shanahan or his former assistants. Myers is quick, but susceptible to power rushes, and Knighton had his way with him on this play, as he did most of the game.
Then, the Broncos shuffled the deck on third-and-12. Houston was still in Randy Bullock's field-goal range at the Denver 34, and the Broncos used seven defensive backs and just three defensive linemen -- ends Ayers and Phillips, with
On this play, the Broncos didn't show blitz, leaving safety
The next time the Texans passed, Schaub clearly had the pass rush on his mind. Looking right the entire time, he began rolling in that direction when Phillips, working from Schaub's left side, was still five yards away. This played into Adams' hands -- as he said, "I read the quarterback's eyes" -- and he waited for his chance to pounce.
It was a big play. But it was set up by the pressure that had been building throughout the day.
This sequence offers the Broncos hope for what they hope is four games without
There's reason to believe that the Broncos can succeed at this; their rate of quarterback hurries, per the numbers compiled by ProFootballFocus.com, was similar with and without Miller. The sources of pressure might be changing, but if the effect is the same, the Broncos' Super Bowl hopes can be sustained.