ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –Just one game stands between the Broncos and the postseason party to which they have already secured an invite, but Week 17's matchup with Oakland will have to take place without linebacker Von Miller. Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway sat down with Chris Hall of Broncos TV to talk about that and the success of quarterback Peyton Manning the Week 17 edition of the Elway Access Podcast presented by US Bank Flex Perks.
It was announced Monday that Miller suffered an ACL tear in the first quarter of Sunday's win in Houston and will miss the remainder of the Broncos' season. Miller played in nine games this season and picked up 34 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, five sacks and a touchdown on a fumble recovery in New England.
While Elway described the injury as "a blow," he's confident in the rest of the defense and their ability to step in and replace Miller.
"We've had several guys step up,' Elway said."Shaun Phillips has really had a tremendous year for us and really has done a great job of stepping up when Von wasn't there. And Robert Ayers, we're going to have to ask more of him. Jeremy Mincey, who we picked up last week, came in and played a lot for us yesterday. We'll ask more of him and also some of the things we do defensively to try to create some pressure.
"But we know what it is and where we sit. We do have one game left against the Raiders next week in Oakland. Hopefully we can finish the season strong there, wrap up that number one seed and go from there."
The Broncos head to Oakland this week after quarterback Peyton Manning set the record for touchdown passes in a season. He tossed his 51st touchdown pass to Julius Thomas in the fourth quarter Sunday to cap off a run of 21 unanswered points.
Elway said he was down on the sideline when Manning broke the record.
"It was fun to be down there late in the game," Elway said. "To be dead honest with you, I hadn't really thought about (Manning breaking the record), I was more concerned with what that final score was. I knew that eventually Peyton was going to get that. I think that especially because it was a tough football game into that fourth quarter and we were able to break it open there and got some momentum and Peyton went to work."
Elway said that the record is a testament to the whole body of work by the entire offensive unit – from first-year Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase through each of the running backs, receivers and offensive linemen.
But the record is also a reflection of all the hard work that Manning has put in during his time in Denver.
"I'm thrilled for Peyton," Elway said. "He's a guy that's put in so much work in the last two years to come back from those neck injuries and has been a great example for all the guys on our football team. Plus it's a true credit to our offense and the offensive line for protecting Peyton. To have four guys with 10-plus touchdown catches to where he can spread it around, take some pressure off – that's where Peyton has done such a tremendous job of when they take somebody away, getting it to the next guy. So to be able to have that many weapons has enabled him to spread it around."
With the touchdown record in tow, Elway has his eye on a couple more records this Sunday in Oakland. That includes, of course, the best record in the AFC, which would come if the Broncos win the season finale.
"I'm proud for Peyton and happy for Peyton but I'm proud of that whole offense and the fact that we go into this week and have a chance with 18 points to break the Broncos' single-season scoring record and with 28 points we can get over 600 points, which is also an NFL record," Elway said.
"So those are really the goals going in this week – hopefully getting the win and those numbers that this is an offense that will go down in the history of the NFL as one of the best of all time."