It’s time to start appreciating that this Denver defense is something a little bit special. Coming into Sunday night’s game I thought the Packers might be able to get the W because Aaron Rodgers would get enough done against the Broncos to top what Peyton Manning could achieve against Green Bay’s defense, but boy was I wrong.
The Broncos defense it turns out is much, much better than I gave it credit for, and I was already giving it credit for being the best in the league by some margin.
Now we need to start thinking of it in all-time great terms.
Think that’s premature? The 2013 Seahawks defense was one of the best the league has ever seen. It was an all-time great defense that absolutely suffocated offenses, leading them to a Super Bowl and ultimately destroying Manning’s Broncos to win the ring.
Manning was at the helm of an all-time great offense that year and managed to score eight points in the Super Bowl against that Seahawks team, failing to get on the board until the game was 36-0.
That Seattle defense in 2013 allowed an average of 4.4 yards per play, and 273.6 yards per game over the regular season. This year’s Denver defense is allowing just 4.1 yards per play and 261.1 yards per game.
Rodgers, the NFL’s best quarterback, threw for 77 yards last night and it took him 14 completions and 19 attempts to get there. He was under pressure in the game — on 14 of his 27 dropbacks — but what really stood out is how completely the Denver defense was able to blanket cover the Packers receivers, leaving Rodgers with absolutely nowhere to go with the ball and a pocket inevitably collapsing around him.
Green Bay has been struck by injuries and is running a skeleton crew on offense when it comes to receiving weapons, but until this game we thought Rodgers would be able to have success with almost anybody in the passing game. That is true, it turns out, until you play a team like Denver that is capable of sticking to your entire receiving corps at once for four or five seconds per play, every play.
Chris Harris Jr, Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby — Denver’s top three corners — combined to surrender just 33 yards all game, on nine targets.
Denver were already four deep at outside linebacker with Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray, but with Ray inactive, Lerentee McCray made some big plays in the run game to go with his sack from two weeks ago. McCray is their fifth guy on the depth chart.
This defense has playmakers at every level. There are pass-rushers and run defenders all over the front, and the secondary can lock down an entire receiving corps rather than one or two players. Top that off with players like linebackers Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan in between those two buttresses and this is a unit that has no weakness. The Denver defense is better than you think it is, even if you think it’s freaking awesome.