DENVER -- As games wind down and opponents are running out of gas in the tank, Von Miller gets stronger.
Derek Wolfe, who finished Sunday’s game with 1.5 sacks, saw that against Andrew Luck and the Colts.
“I think the other guy just gets slower,” Wolfe said. “They get tired and he has more and more energy. He’s like a shark when there’s blood in the water. He just gets going faster and faster.”
With time running out and the Colts in need of a big play, Miller took a huge bite out of Indianapolis’ chances. On first and 10 from the Colts 25-yard line, Luck dropped back to pass in need of a touchdown drive.
Luck never had a chance to throw the ball.
Just like in Super Bowl 50 against Carolina, Miller blew around the right side of Indianapolis’ line and pulled the ball from Luck’s grasp. The ball bounced free, where Shane Ray grabbed it and ran it in for a 15-yard score.
“We knew they had no timeouts and they were going to throw the ball down six points,” Aqib Talib said. “We just wanted to get after them and make them throw something fast. Von did what he do. He’s the best at it. He’s the best pass rusher in the game right now and he showed it today.”
For all intents and purposes, the game was over. But for good measure, Miller picked up his third sack on Indianapolis’ last play to seal the Broncos’ 34-20 win over Indianapolis.
Add that production to two half sacks in the first half and Miller ended up with a performance worthy of the MVP award.
But there was at least one thing Miller earned that he didn’t want: compliments from Luck after the sacks.
“Actually, he did [compliment me],” Miller said. “The second sack we got him, he was like, ‘Good sack.’ And I just wasn’t trying to hear it. I was like, ‘Man, get back. We’re not trying to hear that. We’re coming all night and trying to get us the “W.”’ He’s a great guy and he tries to bring that great guy mentality into the game and onto the football field. For me, I have the utmost respect for him. But after a sack, I’m not trying to hear none of that stuff. I’m trying to celebrate with my guys.”
'Without a doubt'
Ray picked a good time to score his first career NFL touchdown.
The defensive score was the second of the game for the Broncos and all but guaranteed the win.
“We got put in a bad spot and we had to go out there and make a play,” Ray said. “Von did a great job of getting the strip. I just had to be aware to be able to pick the ball up and score. It’s all of us working together; I couldn’t have done it without them.”
As he plays alongside the reigning Super Bowl MVP, Ray said he’s picked up a tremendous amount to add to his game. Miller, who Ray said is “probably harder on me than anybody on the team,” will continue to push Ray to improve as the season progresses. If DeMarcus Ware misses extended time with a fractured ulna, Ray will need to step up even more.
Of course, despite Ray’s big play, Miller still had to give him some grief after the touchdown.
“I did see Shane,” Miller said, “and I was like, ‘Man, they took away the touchdown?’ And he was like, ‘What?’ I kind of messed with him a little bit. With Shane, that’s a like a little brother to me. Even when it’s good, I just try to find a way to poke at him to get him going even more. That was a great job, a phenomenal job today, but don’t tell him I said that.”
But while there might have been some doubt about the score after Ray reached the end zone, there was none when he saw the ball in front of him.
“I was going to score, without a doubt,” Ray said. “Every fumble I’ve picked up, I’ve scored, so I’m just going to add to the list.”
2-0 and room to improve
The Broncos racked up 400 yards of total offense and turned the ball over just once, which should be good enough to win a lot of football games in 2016. They've put but wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas know they must be better if they want to take the next step as a group.
“It’s a little worrisome,” said Thomas of the offense’s inability to finish in the red zone. “You can’t keep kicking field goals. It’s any given Sunday, Monday or Thursday. One day a team might come out and score three touchdowns on our defense and if we kick five field goals we lose the game. We’ve got to figure out what we can do to get in the end zone.”
As problematic as the lack of touchdowns may be, Sanders would rather fix the issue with two wins under their belt as opposed to two losses.
“That’s what it’s about,” Sanders said. “Obviously, you want the stats, you want the 100-yard games, you want the touchdowns, but at the end of the day, what’s more important is the win and we got that. Back in the lab next week … keep getting better and keep striving to hopefully be the best team in the playoffs and hopefully make a run.”