Broncos’ defense was hit and miss, but more competitive than the Super Bowl
Denver’s revamped defense, which includes three high-priced free-agent additions, performed much better against the Seahawks on Sunday than it did the last time it faced Seattle – a 43-8 defeat in Super Bowl XLVIII. But it still fell short in overtime, 26-20.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Denver’s revamped defense, which includes three high-priced free-agent additions, performed much better against the Seahawks on Sunday than it did the last time it faced Seattle — a 43-8 defeat in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Just ask the Broncos after their 26-20 overtime defeat.
“We lost the game and there isn’t a second-place prize or honorable mention or anything like that, but I feel like we got better today,” said linebacker Von Miller, who finished with seven tackles and a sack.
And this from nose tackle Terrance Knighton: “We’re not saying at least the score was better than the Super Bowl or anything like that. ... We felt like we could come in there and get a victory. It didn’t work out that way, but I think we improved as a team.”
The Broncos spent about $24 million this season on cornerback Aqib Talib ($12 million), strong safety T.J. Ward ($7 million) and defensive end DeMarcus Ware ($5 million) to upgrade their pass rush and defensive backfield.
In many ways, Denver wanted to mimic Seattle’s aggressive defensive style, particularly the Legion of Boom secondary.
The results haven’t been great. Before Sunday, the Broncos ranked 30th in the league in pass defense and 27th in total defense.
But when the Seahawks raced out to a 17-3 halftime lead, the Broncos didn’t panic.
“At halftime, we just said we’re not (about) to have a repeat performance of last February,” Knighton said. “We just kept our head in it. We came out in the third quarter still feeling like we can win the game and we had an opportunity to win.”
Denver’s defense dominated the second half while holding Seattle to three points until overtime. Early in the fourth quarter, linebacker Nate Irving and Ward combined to tackle Marshawn Lynch in the end zone for a safety. On Seattle’s next possession, cornerback Chris Harris Jr. intercepted Russell Wilson to set up a Broncos touchdown that cut their deficit to 17-12.
After Peyton Manning’s late fourth-quarter interception, Denver held Seattle to a field goal with 59 seconds left, which gave the Broncos a chance to tie the score.
But the Broncos will lament their overtime performance when Wilson engineered an 80-yard winning drive capped by Lynch’s 6-yard touchdown run.
“They were able to dink and dunk and get those plays to move the chains all the way down the field,” Ward said. “That last drive we just couldn’t get off the field on third-and-short and that was the ballgame.”
Harris said he doesn’t believe in moral victories, but he pointed out that he was one of three defensive starters along with defensive end Derek Wolfe and Miller who didn’t play in the Super Bowl.
“We just got all of our guys back,” Harris said. “You add T.J. Ward, Aqib and Ware, that’s really what it is. We weren’t healthy when we played them in the Super Bowl.
“I would love to see them again. And it would be one heckuva game just like it was today.”
|Good in spots|
|Denver, which got blown out in the Super Bowl last February, held its own at times with its retooled defense. How they fared quarter by quarter:|
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