The Denver Broncos pulled out a miraculous win in Overtime on Sunday, beating the Miami Dolphins in their own house for the first time ever. It was by and large a team effort, but there were outstanding performances that helped that victory. Whether it was a game-changing, momentum-changing or inspiring play, there is one Gameball and three Horseshoes to be handed out on Defense. So lets get to it.
D.J. Williams gets the Game Ball on Defense for his play of the game. In overtime, D.J. Williams brought a determined rush and strip-sacked Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore with a Tomahawk chop to force a fumble. Not only that, but he recovered the loose ball at the Miami 36 yard line. That gave the Broncos excellent field position and an opportunity to win the game. Three plays later, Matt Prater hit the game-winner, a 52-yard Field Goal. Prior to that, both the Broncos and Dolphins had exchanged 3 and outs and Miami was driving for it's own opportunity. They got the ball at their own 15-yard line and had made it to the 43, before Williams decided to make his game-changing play. For his 5 Tackles, 1 Sack and 1 Forced Fumble, he earns the Game Ball.
Now to hand out the Horseshoes.
The first Horseshoe goes to Chris Harris.
One of the best in-game adjustments on Sunday, was the one made by Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen. Cornerback Jonathan Willhite was getting torched all game by each Dolphin receiver and Davone Bess in particular, but going into the 4th Quarter, undrafted rookie Chris Harris was inserted into the lineup as the Broncos went to their nickel package. Harris had a Special Teams Tackle, downed a Britton Colquitt punt and had two Pass break ups in Overtime to help the Broncos in their amazing victory in Miami on Sunday. The first PBU came on the first play in the Overtime period when Matt Moore tried to complete a pass to Brandon Marshall. The rookie wasn't having any of that. The second came just 4 plays before DL Williams Sack/Forced Fumble gave Denver the ball. Moore was trying to get the ball to Davone Bess deep over the middle, but Harris denied the Dolphin Wide Receiver. 3 minutes later, Matt Prater kicked the game-winning Field Goal.
Against the Dolphins, safety Brian Dawkins recorded his 24th and 25th career Sacks to tie for the 3rd-most Sacks by a Defensive Back since the statistic was tracked beginning in 1982. This was Dawkins second career multi-Sack game, the first coming on Nov. 9, 2000 vs. the Arizona Cardinals.
In the 1st Quarter, the Dolphins had the ball on the 17-yard line in a 3rd and 6 situation. Weapon X crept up towards the Line of Scrimmage and had a running head start at the snap. He rushed around the right side nearly untouched. Miami Running Back Reggie Bush was too late on his block and Dawkins blew right by him to make the Tackle on Matt Moore for his 24th Sack. That forced the Dolphins to punt from their own end zone. Topping off the play was the Mile High Salute he gave to the Bronco fans in attendance.
Dawkins 2nd Sack of the day came on another 3rd and 6, this time, in the 4th Quarter. The Dolphins had the ball at the Denver 22-yard line, leading 12-0. This time the Broncos had seven men on the line with Dawkins on the far left side. Miami RT Marco Colombo backed up too far and barely even shoved Brian as he headed for the quarterback. The pocket was being collapsed by a Bull rush from Ryan McBean from the middle. Elvis Dumervil took a double-team deep on the right, while Von Miller rushed in between the two. If Wolverine hadn't got there Von would have made the Sack. A loss of 3 yards on the play forced Miami to take the Field Goal. That was last time the Dolphins would see the end zone in the game. Dawkins finished with 5 Tackles on the day.
The third Horseshoe goes to Broderick Bunkley for his inspiring play.
Denver was in a rut and needed someone to show some heart. In the 3rd Quarter, Dolphins Running Back Daniel Thomas ran the ball up the middle. But Broderick was there to stuff the rookie for a 2-yard loss. That seemed to give a little life to the Bronco Defensive Unit even though 5 plays later, Matt Moore completed a 16-yard Touchdown pass to Tight End Anthony Fasano to make the score 12-0 Miami. The Dolphins attempted a 2-point conversion, but Moore overthrew Brandon Marshall on the fade.
Then in the 4th Quarter, Bunkley asserted his will again. The Dolphins had the ball at their own 33-yard line and Joe Mays had just stopped Daniel Thomas off Right Guard for no gain on 1st and 10. The Broncos used their 1st Timeout and then the Dolphins tried the same play. This time Bunkley made the Tackle after a 3-yard gain by Thomas. Denver used it's 2nd Timeout with 5:39 left in the game. On 3rd and 7, Miami tried Thomas off Left Tackle, but Broderick would have none of it, stopping the Dolphin RB cold with the help of Ryan McBean. The Broncos used their last Timeout as the Dolphins were forced to punt once more. The punt resulted in a Touchback and the Broncos would drive down the field for their first Touchdown. Bunkley finished with 4 Tackles in the game and 3 of them helped inspire his teammates.
That's it for the Defense. You'll have to wait another day for the Offense.