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Film Review: Seven sacks vs. Seahawks a product of inside-outside synergy


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **The Broncos' defensive dominance of the Seahawks on Friday all started with the pass rush, which was a perfect harmony between their outside linebackers and three-technique defensive ends.

"It's essential to the game plan," said DE Kenny Anunike.

Take the first of the Broncos' seven sacks, which came on the second play from scrimmage. The Broncos rushed five men, with the Seahawks keeping six in to block, which didn't include Robert Turbin waiting for a blitzer to pick up. Malik Jackson worked inside from left defensive end, and drew two blockers, leaving Justin Britt on the outside against Von Miller. With no help and Turbin turned around, Miller simply had to beat Britt around the edge. Sprint, sack, strip.

The second sack saw the reverse: the outside linebacker setting up Jackson. It was Shane Ray who disrupted the pocket by working through Russell Okung; Jackson, working from the opposite side, was steered behind Russell Wilson but came back for the sack.

Sack No. 3 was all about Shaquil Barrett. On the previous play, Derek Wolfe drew two blockers, and Barrett used his acceleration to win his one-on-one matchup against Jesse Davis to force a Tarvaris Jackson incompletion. Barrett followed that by bursting around the edge and drilling the backup quarterback from behind for the sack, with Malik Jackson also closing in from the right side.

Barrett was quick to praise the defensive ends for helping set him up.

"They're really crafty and they have some speed," Barrett said. "Sometimes they can hit the B-gap pretty hard, hit the tackle off and go on a natural stunt-off or stuff like that.

"The craftiness helps the guards stay honest, so that they can't come chip on us and help out on us. The guys there on the inside do a great job of keeping us freed up with the one-on-ones."

The fourth sack didn't come until the third quarter, but when it happened, it was the same script: one position setting up another. Vance Walker's rush from the three-technique spot guided QB R.J. Archer to the right side, at which point Gerald Rivers chased him down for the sack and forced fumble.

Sack No. 5 belonged to Kenny Anunike, and even though he didn't work around the edge, it resembled Barrett's sack in that it was all about the individual quickness of the pass rusher. Once Anunike got his shoulder outside the left guard, he took off, using his speed advantage to sprint toward Archer for the sack.

Two more sacks -- one of which simply involved Josh Furman being in the area when Archer ran out of bounds -- wrapped up the Broncos' pass-rush production. Barrett also came close to another sack that would have ended the game; the ensuing incompletion set up Darius Kilgo for the sack that brought the clock to triple zeroes.

The permutations of the Broncos' pass rush appear endless. Could they use Barrett, Ray, Miller and DeMarcus Ware together? What about pairing Jackson and Anunike? Or imagine a nickel package with the quickness those six players can provide. And that says nothing about the rush that Walker, Kilgo, Sylvester Williams and Antonio Smith can provide.

"When you have those guys like Von and Shaq, and all those guys coming off the edge -- and D. Ware -- the quarterback sees that," Anunike said. "He feels that pressure, so naturally he doesn't want to get hit by that. He's going to step up.

"When he steps up, who's going to be right there for him? Me, Vance, Kilgo, all of us [are] going to be right there."

A few more notes:

... Guard Shelley Smith led the Broncos by playing 49 snaps -- 69 percent of the offensive snaps during the game. Starting left guard Max Garcia followed with 41 snaps, with fellow first-teamers Ty Sambrailo and Matt Paradis and QB Brock Osweiler playing 40 snaps apiece.

... Connor Barth averaged 3.80 seconds of hang time on his two kickoffs; Brandon McManus averaged 4.25 seconds on five kickoffs. (4.0 seconds is roughly average.) Both were 3-for-3 on placekicks. Barth hit 23- and 28-yard field goals and an extra point; McManus drilled field goals from 23, 44 and 52 yards.

... The average drive start following McManus' kickoffs was 45 yards from the kickoff spot (which, barring a penalty, would translate to the Seattle 20-yard-line). Barth's numbers -- minus-11.5 yards from the kickoff spot, which translates to the Denver 23 -- were skewed by Tyler Lockett's 103-yard jaunt up the west sideline for a second-quarter touchdown.

... The Broncos averaged 4.14 yards per carry running to the left side, 2.36 yards per rush going to the right side and 5.5 yards on four runs up the middle for 22 yards.

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