CARSON, Calif. — Von Miller thought he was going to score a touchdown.
“I thought I was going to the house,” Miller said.
Case Keenum thought Miller was going to score a touchdown.
“Huge play,” Keenum said. “Incredible play.”
Chris Harris Jr. knew Miller wasn’t going to score a touchdown.
And perhaps Harris knows best, because as Miller intercepted a Philip Rivers screen pass and raced toward the end zone, No. 58 got dragged down from behind.
“I knew No. 12 [Travis Benjamin] was going to catch him,” said Harris with a laugh. “I was like, ‘Fam, if [it was] anybody else other than 12, you can out-run them. But you ain’t outrunning that boy.’”
Benjamin nearly knocked the ball away from Miller, who later said he was surprised there was anyone close to him. And that’s when he decided to fall to the StubHub Center grass.
“I’m going down,” Miller said later of his thinking. “We’re close enough right here.”
And they were. Royce Freeman scored three plays later from 3 yards out to cut the Chargers’ lead to five points.
So while Miller may have lost the race, he did enough to help kick-start the Broncos’ 23-22 comeback win over the Chargers.
Just over 17 minutes of game time later, the Broncos headed off the field with their first AFC West road win since 2015.
Had Miller not made the play, though, they likely wouldn’t have been in position to earn that victory.
“They’re going to go get three [points] again,” said Head Coach Vance Joseph after the game when asked about the play’s importance. “The pick was huge.”
And three points may have iced the game.
The Chargers had taken the opening drive of the half 75 yards in nine plays and five minutes and four seconds to take a 19-7 lead.
The Broncos’ offense responded by going three-and-out.
As the Rivers and the Chargers jogged back on the field with 8:38 to play in the quarter, the Broncos seemed to be on the verge of letting another game slip away.
That’s when Miller stepped up and stepped in front.
“I had the [running] back to the flat,” Miller said. “The back, he didn’t flare to the flat, so I just fell off and I knew I had three receivers outside of me, so I just felt [it] and stayed there for the screen. He threw it to me.”
Once Rivers threw Miller the ball, the All-Pro defender saw open grass ahead of him for the next 42 yards.
“That was good awareness,” Harris said, “I think I taught him that. When it’s a screen, and you see a screen, jump back, fall out and go pick it off. I’m glad he made that play, man.
“When 2-5 and 58 are making plays, it’s hard to beat us.”
That turned out to be true on Sunday, at least, as Harris also recorded an interception and Miller added his 100th career sack.
Both players made plays when it mattered — and Miller’s ended up changing the game.
So while Joseph, Keenum, Harris and Miller all warned against overreacting to one result, it could be worth considering if a single play could start a streak that sends the Broncos back toward playoff contention.
“Everybody watches movies, don’t they?” Miller said.
If Sunday was the start, it seems likely Broncos fans would be happy to keep watching.