DENVER —** When Derek Wolfe speaks, people listen.
So when Head Coach Vance Joseph ceded the floor to Wolfe during a team meeting the night before the game at the team hotel, everyone took note.
Shots from the Broncos' Week 2 battle against the Cowboys. (Photos by Gabriel Christus unless noted)
"It was awesome," nose tackle Domata Peko said. "Big Wolfe's one of our leaders on this team. So Coach gave him the floor last night, and he told us, 'Hey, man, it's about us. It's not about them. We're going to flip the script on them. They're talking about them running on us. We're going to run the ball on them. … And we're going to stop them.'"
The team, energized by the speech, bought in, and less than 24 hours later, Wolfe's words became reality.
In the 42-17 win, the Broncos held Dallas' vaunted rushing attack to 40 rushing yards, including just 8 yards for the NFL's reigning leading rusher, Ezekiel Elliott.
The last time Elliott was held to fewer than 10 yards in a game?
"Never," Elliott said.
And after hearing all week about how good the Cowboys' run game is, Wolfe was thrilled that the Broncos could quiet the chatter.
"I feed off of it." Wolfe said. "We feed off of it as a defense, as a team. Look at what our offense did today. I told the whole team last night that we need to flip the switch on them: 'We're going to run the ball down their throats. We're going to shut their run game down, and that's how we win this game.' And we did that."
But Wolfe wasn't satisfied.
"It would be a lot better if it was nine carries for negative-eight yards," said Wolfe when asked about Elliott's production. "… We let the quarterback get out a little bit. What'd they have, 32 total yards rushing or something? I think it could have been lower than that. That's the thing. We can be better. There's a lot of mistakes we made. We want to be perfect."
Wolfe's other prediction — that the Broncos would emerge from the game with the more dominant ground attack — also came true. Denver rushed for 178 yards, moving the chains 11 times on the ground and helping eat up nearly 34 minutes.
"Defensively, we stopped the run and the offense had 100-something on them," Peko said. "So we kind of flipped the script on them.
"That's what Wolfe was saying we were going to do to them."