CINCINNATI —** After Shane Ray's Week 2 performance in which he returned a fumble for a touchdown, he couldn't help but regret the sacks that he left on the field.
In Sunday's 29-17 win over the Bengals, Ray had three sacks and none of those regrets.
"No, not at all," he said with a smile. "I just went back to the drawing board, saw where I had to get better and just looked at my game plan against the guy I was going against, and I was able to go out there and make plays."
Ray's day was exactly what the Broncos knew he could do. It was just a matter of patience and opportunity. As DeMarcus Ware recovers from his elbow injury, Ray got that opportunity.
He capitalized in the third quarter with back-to-back sacks that helped push the Bengals out of field-goal range following a Broncos turnover.
Ray got his first sack bull-rushing an extra lineman the Bengals had lined up as a tight end in protection on a play-action pass. Tackle Jake Fisher was no match for Ray, who beat Fisher inside to reach quarterback Andy Dalton. On the following play, Ray simply persevered as the pocket broke down.
"They tried to one-on-one block me with a tight end, and I don't think that's a good idea," Ray quipped. "You don't leave a one-on-one block with Von Miller. You don't leave a one-on-one block with the best pass-rushers in the league. They left a tight end one-on-one with me, and I was able to beat him inside to get to the sack. After that, I kept my eyes open. My original rush didn't work, but I was able to come back and make the play when the quarterback held the ball."
As he watched Ray go to work, Miller couldn't help but picture him and Ray as Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, respectively, in Bad Boys.
A look at the Broncos' 29-17 win over the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. (Photos by Eric Bakke unless noted).
"I feel like Will Smith from Bad Boys, when Martin Lawrence is driving. 'That's how you drive! That's how you're supposed to drive!'" Miller exclaimed, reliving the movie's chase scene. "That's how Shane is supposed to play. That's what we've been waiting for. That's Shane Ray. That's what we brought him in to be, and it feels good to go out there and see him do it. I'm proud of him."
Ray, as well as fellow edge-rushing reserve Shaquil Barrett, received starters' reps throughout the offseason while Ware recovered from an injured back and Miller took care of his long-term contract negotiations under the franchise tag. The time helped prepare Ray and Barrett for this moment when their defensive reps increased.
And as Ware continues to heal from his elbow fracture, you can get used to seeing the Bad Boys in action.
"I think you're going to see that from Shane and Shaquil Barrett," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "They're stepping in for DeMarcus Ware, but they've really been working as starters since April 27 when we went to minicamp. They've worked for their opportunities, and they're taking advantage of it."