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'It's on me': Von Miller embraces pressure to play well in 'Thursday Night Football' matchup with Browns

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Following the Broncos' Week 6 loss, Von Miller stood at the podium and pledged to be a better version of himself.

"Everybody knows what we have to do to win football games," Miller said Sunday. "It starts with me. I've got to do a better job. I slipped. We started off winning and I've got to double down. I've got to do more. I've got to find a way to make a play. I've got to find a way to pressure the quarterback. I've got to do what I do best. I have to focus on me. That's all I know how to do."

As the Broncos prepare for a pivotal Thursday night game in Cleveland that can push Denver back above .500 and keep the team in the playoff race, Miller reiterated on Tuesday the need for him to enhance his level of play.

And in his mind, there's no doubt that he can deliver in Cleveland.

"It's on me," Miller said. "I've played in all types of games. I've performed well in all types of games, and I've got to play well in this game. I will play well in this game. I'm going to go off. It's going to be a good game for me."

In previous weeks, Miller has said the Broncos' game against the Ravens felt like an early-season playoff matchup and that the team's games vs. Pittsburgh and Las Vegas were critical to the team's success.

As Denver tries to end a three-game skid, Miller has decided to look inward.

"I don't want to put the pressure on those guys this time," Miller said. "I'll put the pressure on me. I'm going to have a great game. I'm going to go out there, and I'm going to play well and get a couple sacks. And if I can do that, then we will win."

In the Broncos' three wins this season, Miller totaled four sacks, six tackles for loss and earned AFC Defensive Player of the Month honors in September. But over the previous three weeks, Miller has posted just half of a sack and has been held without a quarterback takedown over the last two weeks.

"If you look at this season, the first three games, I had a couple sacks and we won those games," Miller said. "These last three games, I didn't do as much. If I can play well and I can get sacks and I can find a way to disrupt the game, we'll win."

And while Miller stopped short of guaranteeing a win, he did promise that he would deliver a prime performance.

"The pressure's on me to play well. I will play well. I don't know who the tackle is that I'm going against, but I'm gonna kill him," Miller said with a light-hearted laugh. "... And the other guy too, on the other side. And I'm going to play extremely well and I'm going to make plays for my team. I'm going to set us up to win this game for sure."

Miller has made such proclamations in the past. In 2018, with the Broncos sitting at 2-4, Miller guaranteed a win over the Arizona Cardinals. That game, too, came in Week 7 on Thursday night after the Broncos had lost multiple games in a row.

The Broncos' pass-rusher more than backed up his promise, as he recorded two sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and four quarterback hits. The Denver defense was swarming, as the unit forced five turnovers against rookie quarterback Josh Rosen in a 45-10 win. Miller has not recorded a forced fumble since that win, but the Broncos could certainly use a boost in takeaways; After forcing five turnovers through the first three games, Denver has recorded just one in the last three weeks.

"Obviously it's always critical, especially if you can create field position besides getting a stop," Head Coach Vic Fangio said on Monday. "It's something we emphasize and something we work on. We just have to do a better job of that. We've played some quarterbacks that don't turn it over much per se throughout their career and we have to do a better job. No doubt about it."

Miller said there's no particular way that he knows when it's right to make a bold statement, but he knew on Tuesday that it was time to welcome the pressure onto himself.

"You just feel it, and it's genuine," Miller said. "This time, Thursday night coming [up], I want to put it on me. I want to put the pressure on me. If it's all on me, I can control that."

And if Miller can indeed turn in the necessary level of play, he's confident it will lead to a much-needed victory.

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