The Broncos have made steady improvement over the course of the season in terms of defense on all 3rd downs as well as 3rd and Long specifically. I took a break from writing this for a few weeks so we have 3 games worth of 3rd and longs to cover (Car, @KC and TB). The results are very good.
Against Carolina the Broncos defense did not allow a 3rd down conversion PERIOD. It marked the third time this year that the D had allowed 1 or fewer 3rd down conversions in a game (Oak and NO). The team held the Panthers to 0 for 7 on 3rd and Long (0 for 12 overall). Here are the situations and the outcomes:
|3rd and 8 at CAR 9||(Shotgun) C.Newton pass incomplete deep right to L.Murphy. Penalty on CAR-A.Silatolu, Illegal Use of Hands, declined.|
|3rd and 10 at CAR 20||(Shotgun) C.Newton pass incomplete short left to S.Smith.|
|3rd and 18 at CAR 14||(Shotgun) C.Newton pass short left to G.Olsen to CAR 22 for 8 yards (C.Harris; J.Leonhard).|
|3rd and 10 at DEN 29||(Shotgun) C.Newton scrambles up the middle to DEN 25 for 4 yards (R.Moore).|
|3rd and 10 at CAR 35||(Shotgun) C.Newton sacked at CAR 32 for -3 yards (C.Harris).|
|3rd and 14 at CAR 16||(Shotgun) C.Newton pass incomplete short right to B.LaFell (R.Ayers).|
|3rd and 19 at CAR 2||(Shotgun) C.Newton sacked in End Zone for -2 yards, SAFETY (M.Adams).|
Against Carolina our D was able to put them in "long" 3rd and long situations with all but one being 10 or more yards needed. This was about as dominant as you will ever witness in the NFL.
Against KC at arrowhead, the D held the Chefs to 3 of 14 overall on 3rd downs and 1 of 6 on 3rd and long. Here are the 3rd and long situations and outcomes:
|3rd and 11 at KC 30||(Shotgun) B.Quinn pass short left to T.Moeaki to DEN 49 for 21 yards (T.Carter) [M.Adams].|
|3rd and 14 at KC 47||(Shotgun) B.Quinn pass short left to D.Bowe to DEN 40 for 13 yards (C.Bailey).|
|3rd and 8 at DEN 33||(Shotgun) B.Quinn sacked at DEN 42 for -9 yards (W.Woodyard).|
|3rd and 7 at DEN 37||(Shotgun) B.Quinn pass short left to D.Bowe to DEN 31 for 6 yards (C.Bailey).|
|3rd and 10 at KC 38||B.Quinn pass incomplete deep right to J.Newsome [C.Harris].|
|3rd and 13 at DEN 45||(Shotgun) B.Quinn pass incomplete short left to D.Bowe.|
The Chefs were able to convert on their first 3rd and long of the day (21 yard pass to Moeaki), but were shut-out after that. Again both the overall 3rd down and the 3rd and long D was very stout. I want to point out the two instances where a pass was caught but the offensive player stopped short of the first down by Champ.
Against the Bucs, the 3rd down defense was again very stout. The Bucs only converted 3 of 12 overall and only 2 of 10 on 3rd and long. The key point to bring up here is that our D kept the Bucs in 3rd and Long situations the entire game (10 out 12 3rd downs). Here are the situations and the outcomes:
|3rd and 11 at DEN 15||(Shotgun) J.Freeman pass short middle to M.Williams to DEN 14 for 1 yard (C.Harris).|
|3rd and 8 at TB 21||(Shotgun) J.Freeman pass deep left to V.Jackson to TB 40 for 19 yards (R.Moore).|
|3rd and 14 at TB 36||(Shotgun) J.Freeman pass deep left intended for V.Jackson INTERCEPTED by C.Harris [V.Miller] at DEN 46. C.Harris to DEN 46 for no gain (V.Jackson). PENALTY on DEN-V.Miller, Roughing the Passer, 15 yards, enforced at TB 36 - No Play.|
|3rd and 10 at DEN 49||(Shotgun) J.Freeman pass incomplete short left to D.Ware. Penalty on TB-J.Zuttah, Offensive Holding, declined.|
|3rd and 8 at TB 10||(Shotgun) J.Freeman pass incomplete short right to T.Underwood.|
|3rd and 20 at TB 10||(Shotgun) D.Ware right guard to TB 18 for 8 yards (J.Leonhard).|
|3rd and 8 at TB 34||(Shotgun) J.Freeman pass incomplete deep left to M.Williams (J.Leonhard).|
|3rd and 11 at DEN 37||(Shotgun) J.Freeman scrambles left tackle to DEN 32 for 5 yards (M.Adams).|
|3rd and 9 at TB 35||(Shotgun) J.Freeman pass incomplete short right to M.Williams.|
|3rd and 17 at DEN 46||(Shotgun) J.Freeman pass short left to D.Clark pushed ob at DEN 37 for 9 yards (D.Trevathan).|
The two conversion were both early in the game - the 19 yard pass to Vjax on 3rd and 8, and the roughing the passer call on Von which negated the Harris pick (on 3rd and 14). The other two 3rd down situations were the 3rd and 2 that Vickerson blew up - stopping Martin short - and a 3rd and 1 that they converted (2 yard QB sneak).
Since this is a triple shot here are the aggregate numbers for the past three games.
The defense has only allowed 6 of 38 3rd downs to be converted (15.7%)
On 3rd and Long our D has only 3 of 23 to be converted (13%)
Considering where both of these numbers were for the first three games of the season, this is MASSIVE improvement. Admittedly the offenses of CAR, KC and TB and not really comparable to PIT, ATL and HOU, but it is impossible to deny that great strides have been made. On the season the Broncos are now allowing 34.4% conversion on 3rd down (NFL.com says were are at 33% allowed). 33% allowed is good for 2nd best in the league. On 3rd and long, the Broncos are down to allowing 28.8% conversion. Since the league doesn't track this stat, it is hard to know where we rank, but I will say that on the season we are probably middle of the pack for 3rd and long. The only other team that I tallied (the Browns) were only allowing 19% conversion on 3rd and long after 8 games.
The 7 game win streak has been due in large part to the play of the defense. One of the biggest differences between the Broncos D in the first quarter of the season and in the past 8 games has been the much improved defense on 3rd down. The D has been consistently able to get off the field and to get the ball back to PFM.
13-3 until we aint!