DETROIT** – Just three games into the 2015 season and already the Broncos defense has made a compelling case for why they're one of the best in the league.
Denver's streak of picks and forced fumbles continued in its 24-12 win over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field Sunday night – but what was most noteworthy was that the three turnovers came from beyond the starting lineup.
Cornerback Bradley Roby made a stunningly athletic interception in the first quarter to help set the tone for the rest of the game. Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett then forced a fumble in the fourth quarter that was recovered by Malik Jackson. But safety David Bruton Jr. doused the Lions' comeback bid with less than four minutes remaining in the game with an interception that led to the Broncos' final touchdown on the ensuing drive.
Roby, Barrett and Bruton may not be starters for the Broncos, but they are essential cogs in Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips' scheme.
"This scheme really fits the talent that we have on this team," said Roby. "We have great rushers, we have great backers – we have great everything. We think we can be a great defense, and y'all are seeing it each week. Y'all are seeing our hard work we put in this year come to fruition."
As a unit, the Broncos defense was able to hold Detroit's offense to 290 total yards on offense and just 28 yards on the ground.
"I just think we've got playmakers in the back," said outside linebacker Von Miller. "There are not a lot of teams that have got that. We've got guys that aren't trying to get a PBU [pass breakup], they're trying to get the pick. And it's not just Chris [Harris Jr.] and [Aqib] Talib, but you see Bradley and all these guys.
"It's not just me and DeMarcus [Ware] with the rush, it's all these guys rushing – Shane [Ray], Lerentee [McCray]. It's not just one guy, it's a group, it's a combination of things that's making it happen for us."
That combination is helping the Broncos pass rushers sack a quarterback four times – just like they did Sunday evening.
"That's what it takes to win a Super Bowl," said Harris. "You need everybody. Some games are going to be [Bruton]'s game, some games going to be T.J. [Ward]'s game, some going to be Aqib's game – as long was we keep taking turns it'll be looking great for us at the end of the year."
Next, the Broncos will host the Minnesota Vikings back home at Sports Authority Field and it's safe to say that fans can expect to see Denver's depth on display – whether they're coming off the bench or not.
"It doesn't matter," said Marshall. "You've got Shaq, [who] comes in and makes a hell of a play and you've got Bruton and he makes a hell of play, so starter or no starter, [it] doesn't matter – and Roby – that's what we do."