ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --When the final whistle sounded to end the third quarter, the Broncos defense charged the length of the field at full speed as if it was chasing an opposing quarterback.
While the Chiefs walked down the field, using the opportunity to catch their collective breath, the Broncos' defense sprinted.
"It was great," linebacker Von Miller said. "I think it was a momentum shift with the guys on our defense showing that we're not tired. We're going to keep pushing, keep drilling through it. It was great … it's great to see those guys amped up."
As safeties Rahim Moore and Mike Adams tore down the field, the crowd rose to its feet, whipped into a frenzy from the display of energy.
Even the offensive players watching on the sideline felt the effect.
"Our fans are incredible," tight end Jacob Tamme said. "I was getting goose bumps in the fourth quarter when our defensive guys were running down the field, the way the fans responded."
The break between quarters was just about the only time this season that opponents' quarterbacks were safe.
The Broncos defense sacked Chiefs signal caller Brady Quinn four times on Sunday to bring its season total to 52 quarterback takedowns, which tied for the league lead and marked the most for the franchise since 1991.
"Everybody played their part," said defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who finished with 11 sacks in 2012. "And obviously the guys on defense executing, believing in our staff, believing in what we're trying to get accomplished. The crowd noise was amazing. It was a great day for the D."
Denver's defense finished the season ranked in the top 5 in both total (3rd) and scoring (5th) defense.
After the Broncos' defense kick-started the fourth quarter with their spontaneous wind sprint, it allowed just 20 yards during the final frame.
During Denver's 11-game win streak to end the season, the defense allowed just 15.9 points per game, while the offense averaged 31.5.
For the Broncos to make a run in the playoffs, their defense will have to continue its regular-season success into the postseason.
And that's a challenge that's OK with the franchise's new single-season sack king, Von Miller.
"That sounds pretty good," Miller said, who finished the season with 18.5 sacks. "If we can put it in anybody's hands, we want it. We want the ball. We want to be in situations where we can make plays for our team. It sounds pretty good."