Shaquil Barrett returned to the starting lineup against Oakland last Sunday and wasted little time showing why he has become a crucial component of the Broncos' rotation at outside linebacker.
With a quick burst as Raiders left tackle Donald Penn attempted to guide him outside and behind Derek Carr, Barrett exploded back toward the quarterback and in one swift motion, stripped the football. He quickly recovered it, setting the Broncos up at the Oakland 24-yard line.
Big plays are nothing new for Barrett. It was his second strip-sack fumble in the last five games, and his blocked punt in the first quarter one week earlier set the offense up at the Cincinnati 29-yard line.
Take a frame-by-frame look at Shaquil Barrett's strip-sack of Raiders QB Derek Carr. (Photos by Gabriel Christus)
Barrett's rate of one forced fumble every 11 tackles is also the league's fourth-best among linebackers this season.
"Shaq's played well the last two weeks," Head Coach Vance Joseph said. "Shaq had a tough injury in the offseason and he came back a little slow, but now he's playing at a high level, and it's huge for us."
Barrett's play has been especially crucial given that Shane Ray was forced to miss six games because of torn wrist ligaments and is still working his way back to full strength.
"Shaq, he's got to be a real guy for us -- on teams and on defense," Joseph said. "I'm proud of how Shaq has played the last couple of weeks for us."
He's also become an example for the defense.
"Shaq is the definition of what a Bronco is," safety Justin Simmons said. "He's selfless. He does whatever is asked of him.
"Obviously, his defensive reps are limited, but you see that when he's out there, he's extremely explosive. He makes plays happen. There couldn't be enough good things said about what he does."