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Defense searches for perfection by intensifying efforts in practice

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Like the overnight snowstorm that swept through Denver early Thursday, praise has been heaped on the Broncos' defense at a frenetic pace since the unit's magnum opus to date, its dismantling of the Packers in last week's 29-10 win.

It can make you feel good. It can also make you overconfident if you buy into it.

How, then, do you maintain that sharp edge to keep striving for better?


"It's always difficult," said DE Antonio Smith. "Each week, you've got to find a way to work just as hard as you did the week before.

"It seems like a simple thing to say, but complacency is real. When you're feeling good, everybody is patting you on your back. You get to feeling, 'Aw, this feels comfortable. This feels nice. Let me enjoy it.' The one thing we don't do is let that happen."

And that's why the defense's work took on a sharper edge Thursday. Defensive captain DeMarcus Ware said the defense ran some plays over again because the players didn't like how the unit performed.

"We were in practice today, and we were like, 'There was a mistake that we didn't make last week,'" Ware said. "We need to make sure that we correct it so that it doesn't happen, and not let that dead egg -- that's what we call it on our team -- don't let that eventually start stinking. We try to get out there and strive for perfection, and that's every week."

"We just had to pick up the energy," added OLB Von Miller. "I mean, that's what good teams are supposed to do. It was nothing out of the ordinary."

Much of the pressure has come from the players themselves. Some of it came from the coaches.

"We got yelled at a little bit today in the beginning of practice," Smith said, "but then once we made it fun to work toward the end of practice, practice was better, and you didn't even know you were working hard, because you were having fun."

And the most fun kind of football, of course, is winning football.

The Broncos' defense sits at or near the top in almost every statistical category. Some are comparing it to the great defenses of modern NFL history: the 1976 Steelers, the 1985 Bears, the 2000 Ravens, the 2002 Buccaneers and the 2013 Seahawks. Of course, four of those teams won world championships and the exception, the Steelers, allowed just 28 points in the last nine games of the regular season (although this was in the NFL's "dead-ball" era in which the Orange Crush also flourished).

Such parallels are fun. But they're also premature. And the worst thing Denver's defenders can do is begin believing they're something special.

Fortunately, that doesn't appear to be a concern. The players are capable of finding reasons to take umbrage -- whether it's a perceived slight, a desire for revenge on an opponent, or the quest for more publicity.

"I don't feel like we're getting enough respect still. For one, the stuff that [NT Sylvester Williams] needs—Sly needed the commercials and all that stuff," Miller said. "He said, 'I need to get all that stuff,' and then maybe.

"I don't feel like we've even scratched the surface of the type of defense that we know we can be. We've done some great stuff, and we just want to keep on doing the same stuff that we've been doing."

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