ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Precious little went right for the Broncos in Kansas City, but one thing that did was the defense rediscovering its turnover touch late in the first quarter.
As with most Broncos interceptions, pressure was at the heart of the pick. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips rushed five men, with Corey Nelson providing the delayed rush that forced the errant Alex Smith throw which Justin Simmons intercepted.
But the key to this is how the Broncos utilize their interior pass rushers, which on this play were Derek Wolfe and Shane Ray. With both of them in a stand-up alignment, not a single Broncos defender has his hand in the dirt at the start of the play.
Wolfe and Ray stunt at the snap. Wolfe, aligned over right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, draws center Mitch Morse and left guard Zach Fulton in a double-team. Ray is in one-on-one engagement with the right guard. Corey Nelson comes in behind them -- and finds a clear path to Smith.
By the time Morse realizes Nelson is rushing up the middle, it's too late; Nelson is already bearing down on Smith, forcing the throw that Simmons reads perfectly after beginning the play as the single high safety.
The momentum swing went for naught, as Travis Kelce dashed through the Denver defense on the subsequent series for an 80-yard score that ensured the Broncos would play from at least two scores behind the rest of the game.
But if the Broncos can generate third-down pressure against the Raiders, they could force Matt McGloin into some quick, poor decisions and throws like the one Simmons procured -- which could be their best chance of ending a frustrating season on a high note.