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2007 Best and Worst Broncos' Moments #6

Moment #6 -- One of the Best

-- Crowder Takes it to the House

We needed the win against Pittsburgh in the worst way. And we got it in arguably the best.

The "no looking back" moment came when Elvis Dumervil notched his second sack of the game, pulling Roethlisberger down amongst a chaotic mess caused by Marcus Thomas, Tim Crowder and Jarvis Moss. When the ball popped out Crowder grabbed it up and high-tailed it into the endzone, 50 yards away:

"I just didn't look back," Crowder said. "They always tell me, 'If you run, never look back.' I saw the ball, I scooped it up. Elvis Dumervil kicked it out to me and I just took it to the house."

The great part about this play was it was the reward for what would amount to four quarters of solid work by the much-maligned Denver defensive line. The young guys were the stars that night, with Alvin McKinley getting in on the sack action as well, and Roethlisberger spent the evening hurried, harrased and harangued. After the game, when reporters asked him questions in the visitor's locker room, Big Ben was seen with icepacks strapped everywhere on his body, and he needed help standing for the questions.

With the Denver offense clicking and the game close and competitive, the defense was allowed to protect a lead and get after the passer, with multiple blitz looks and the unwavering and tenacious energy of a defensive line loaded with first and second year talent. The bright lights of Mile High shined down on quite the show that evening, which culminated in yet another walk off FG for the win by Elam, and smiles all around for Denver's defensive effort.

There would be some issues to point out for the defense in the PIT game, including the fact that PIT mounted a 14 point rally that tied the game late, but that can be more attributed to a stalling Denver offense in the games waning quarters, and to the fact that Pittsburgh was a quality 4-1 team that wasn't likely to stay down for a full game.

But for the first time in 2007, we saw what kind of future awaited the Broncos. But for a season-ending injury to #1 draft pick Jarvis Moss a week later we may have had even more opportunities to see the coming storm that is our defensive front four. Instead, that sight awaits us in 2008.

What will our 2008 pass rush look like?

I'm with HT on this one: I think we have ideal tools to mount a solid pass rush against any team in the league. I will go a step farther than HT, however, and endorse Marcus Thomas as a major part of that notion, and a GREAT part.

First off we have the DEs to get it done, in Crowder, Moss, Ekuban, and especially DOOM. Also factor in that Ekuban will likely see pass rushing reps as a DT beside Marcus Thomas and McKinley and we are talking about TOO many players for just one play. Our rotation should be a strength.

HT will also point out that our scheme is much more conducive to, if not a 'true' pass rush, definitely to the results of pass rushing, which is hurries/ints and sacks, due to the high pressure environment of "Show-Blitz".

But the biggest factor in an improved pass rush in 2008 to me is the relocation of DJ Williams. In 2007 he was eating up multiple blockers or dropping into coverage on passing plays. In 2008 he will be eating up QBs and dropping bombs from the WLB position. Few things get me as excited about 2008 as imagining what DJ will be able to do from WLB. And the adjustment offenses will have to make, on top of adjusting to the show-blitz scheme, will be to additionally have a blocker to account for DJ's speed and athleticism, which is one less route runner, and one more DB in position to make an INT. And all that confusion around the line will aid the outside rushers like DOOM and Moss who will need to close the deal and ensure that the ball is getting either released way too soon (INT!!), or getting buried in the dirt in the backfield (SACK!!!!). DOOM has already proven he can do it, and Moss was off to a good start before his injury, so the questions aren't as severe about him as they could be.

I am looking for this 2008 Denver pass rush to be scary indeed.