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Denver Broncos defense went into beast mode, but still overshadowed by offense - Horse Tracks

Justin Edmonds

In what was likely the first "complete game" from the Denver Broncos this year in a 41-20 beat down of the previously undefeated Arizona Cardinals, we finally saw what kind of potential this team has on both offense and defense. I came away quite impressed despite some early frustrations and a few lucky breaks for the Cardinals. Before I get to a few select quotes from last night, let's take a look at some statistics shall we?

I've decided to ignore that 81 yard touchdown pass in the third quarter because it was a fluke and would never happen again if that ball were thrown a 100 more times in the same situation. Also, that was Logan Thomas' only completion. Yes. It was his only completion in eight attempts, so I'm going to take that one chunk out of the equation just for fun.

Cardinals Game Stats (minus a fluke play)

First Downs Third Down Efficiency Total Yards Passing Yards Rushing Yards Punts TOP
8 3/16 - 18% 134 97 37 11 24:43

That's what I would call a complete game from the defense. Sure, it still looks good with that 81 yard fluke play, but it looks even better without it. I prefer better.

The media was understandably all over Peyton Manning and his 500th touchdown pass and also Demaryius Thomas and his beastly performance.Both of which were freaking awesome, but this Horse Tracks will cover the defense a little more since the offense has rightfully gotten all the glory since yesterday.

Terrance Knighton got the first word in on how well the defense played, noting that, "That’s where they make their money. We have so many versatile players, so it’s really pick your own poison. We have to stop the run early and get off the field and allow our offense to get a lead."

Well, they did all of those things and I doubt this defense will be the 31st ranked pass defense come next week, but they will need a few more weeks of this kind of play before a big dent is really made in that area. It's certainly possible if Von Miller plays like he did yesterday though.

He obviously feels good about his play, saying, "It feels good to do my job and take care of business and do what I’m supposed to do. This is why I’m here with the Broncos. It feels good to make plays for my teammates. I’ve got a unique position on the field. If I can get my job done, then everybody’s job on the defense is a whole lot easier. That is the mindset that I go in at the end of the week thinking."

His performance yesterday reminded me so much of how he literally took over a Thursday Night Football game against Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets back in the Tebow Time days. I think those young backups were terrified of him yesterday. I certainly don't blame them for that.

Miller wants to be the best at his position and though I think he already has been and is the best, he thinks its still a goal he must achieve saying, "That was my goal way back when I tore my ACL last year. I made a promise to myself that I’m (going to) grind, I’m (going to) work and I’m going to come back and be the best player on the field. I’m going to be the best player at my position, the best outside linebacker in the game. I’ve got a poster in my locker - it is in a lot of our lockers - it is ‘G.O.A.T.’, the greatest of all time. And I feel like if you’re not going out there with that mindset, then what are you really doing?"

It's hard to believe that Danny Trevathan was the piece of the puzzle missing from this defensive dominance, but his return surely helped in that regard. Once Drew Stanton left the game, the defense really smelled blood in the water and went for it. Trevathan commented on that post-Stanton aggressiveness, saying, "We still worked within our scheme. Our scheme was to get a little bit of pressure on the quarterback and play our defense. The second half, we kind of got after them a little bit more and got a feel for the way their linemen was blocking and all this and that. Our D-Ends, Von and D-Ware and Malik, all of them just went up on them and that’s what they’re here for and that’s what they’re going to continue doing."

I’ve got a poster in my locker - it is in a lot of our lockers - it is 'G.O.A.T.', the greatest of all time. - Von Miller

So how close is this defense to being truly great? Trevathan commented on that too, saying, "We can be great. I believe we’ve reached some peaks today, second half we reached a whole bunch of our peak of it but at the same time we have to put together four quarters. I keep saying that but we keep saying that but we played our ball today and I’m glad with it. I’m going to take the W and move forward."

That is what we call cautious optimism with a mix of humble pie. I love that! These players are hungry and stay hungry even after dominating performances such as yesterdays game. This is truly the definition of a "Super Bowl Victory or Bust" mentality.

DeMarcus Ware felt that the defense has come a long way since Week 1 and is especially happy with the defensive line, noting, "I think there’s always things to work on, but from Week 1, it was a big improvement. And the D-Line came together, I’m talking just defensively, and that we had a lot of big stops."

I wouldn't call this a complete game from the defense. That 81 yard touchdown that I decided to exclude earlier is exactly the kind of fluke play that a great defense will deny 100% of the time, so there is definitely room for improvement. However, we all got to witness the true potential of this defense yesterday. If they can keep grinding and peak around January-February then I will be one happy Broncomaniac.

Okay, enough gushing over the defense for one morning. Let's get to the news!

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning show classic form in NFL Week 5 | The MMQB
“I want to play till I’m 41. And if I get to that point and still feel good, I’ll keep playing. I mean, what the hell else am I going to do? I don’t like anything else. It’s so hard to think of anything that would match what I do.

Post-Game Video

Arizona Cardinals vs. Denver Broncos highlights
The Denver Broncos offense was too much for the Arizona Cardinals, as wide receiver Demaryius Thomas racked up 226 yards and 2 touchdowns in their 41-20 victory.

Fox postgame presser
Head Coach John Fox meets the media after the Broncos' 41-20 win over the Cardinals.

Miller, Ware have breakout game
Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware combined for 2.5 sacks and 3 tackles for loss in Sunday's win over the Cardinals.

Locker room celebration
Head Coach John Fox hands out the game balls from Sunday's win over the Cardinals.

Welker breaks Rod Smith's record
With 847 career receptions, Wes Welker broke Rod Smith's record for the most catches by an undrafted player in NFL history on Sunday.

D. Thomas: 'All that matters is a win'
Demaryius breaks single-game receiving record for the Broncos in win vs Cardinals.

D. Thomas: 'I came out and had a great game.'
Demaryius talks about his record breaking day.

Manning on staying aggressive
Manning talks post-game about Hillman and finishing strong on offense.

Manning reflects on 500th td pass
Manning talks to press after beating the Cardinals 20-4.

Trevathan on return, Sunday's win
Linebacker Danny Trevathan talks about his first game back from injury and what the defense did well Sunday against the Cardinals.

Horse Tracks

3 things we learned from Denver's blowout win -
The Cardinals kept it close for awhile, but injuries and Peyton Manning took too heavy of a toll. Arizona leaves Denver with their first loss of the young season.

All the records the Broncos set against the Cardinals
Records set in 41-20 Denver Broncos victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5.

How It Happened: vs. Cardinals
Check out highlights from the Broncos' 41-20 win over the Cardinals on Sunday.

Peyton's Take: Manning shines on festive day
No. 18 didn't take long to throw his long-expected 500th touchdown pass, and his stellar performance led to a few other benchmarks toppling by day's end.

Welker sets record with most career receptions as an undrafted player
Wes Welker passed Rod Smith on the list of undrafted NFL players with the most receptions.

Demaryius Thomas sets Broncos' record in win over Cardinals - The Denver Post
Droppin' Demaryius is gone. Demaryius the Destroyer of cornerbacks is back.

Paige: Easy, breezy, Peyton Manning could throw 600 before he's done - The Denver Post
Five hundred and two times defenders had fallen before him on touchdown passes. And many more will fall before Manning's work is done.

Broncos' Ronnie Hillman strong in place of injured Montee Ball - Denver Post
Ronnie Hillman is now the Broncos' most trusted running back. Who would have thought that after the Broncos' final preseason game at Dallas?

Cardinals vs. Broncos: Highs, lows of Denver's Week 5 win
Recounting the high points and low points of the Broncos' win over the Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday, Oct. 5.

Arians calls chop block on Calais Campbell the 'dirtiest play' he's ever seen -
The Cardinals were not happy about the play that took out their all-world defensive lineman.

5 things we learned in the 41-20 loss - Revenge of the Birds
A 41-20 loss is not what the Arizona Cardinals had in mind. But after a 3-0 start to the season, the Cardinals just didn't have enough answers or depth, despite getting as close as 24-20 in the second half before the wheels fell off.

Peyton Manning throws 500th career passing touchdown -
Peyton Manning joined Brett Favre as the only players in NFL history with 500 passing touchdowns.

Broncos Beat Cardinals 41-20 - Scout
Denver has improved to 3-1 with a 41-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals. This knocks the Cardinals down to 3-1 as well. Although the Broncos led just 21-13 at halftime, 17 4th quarter points put the game well out of reach.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Broncos - ESPN
A few thoughts from the Denver Broncos’ 41-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

NFL News

Tony Romo calls out Cowboys fans, says they need to be better fans -
One of the problems with having two teams in a state is when opposing fanbases invade your stadium, and Tony Romo isn't happy with Cowboys fans in Arlington today.

3 things we learned from New York's 30-20 win -
Odell Beckham Jr. sparked a come-from-behind victory in his NFL debut and the once left-for-dead Giants are back above .500.

3 things we learned from Carolina's comeback win -
The Panthers pull off a comeback to end a two-game losing skid, while the Bears give it away late and fall below .500.

3 things we learned from New Orleans' overtime win -
The unthinkable almost happened to the Saints on Sunday, but they pulled it out in the extra frame.

3 things we learned from an OT thriller -
Fate set the stage for Tony Romo on Sunday. He came through.

3 things from Alex Smith's losing return to San Francisco -
Alex Smith's return to San Fran didn't lead to "blood and guts." Instead, fans got a war of attrition between two eerily similar teams.

Tom Brady eclipses 50,000 career passing yards -
Touchdown Tom is reaching milestones again.

The baffling death of former Tennessee Titans kicker Rob Bironas | The MMQB
The former Tennessee Titans kicker wished his wife good night and slipped out of the house unnoticed before dying in a single-vehicle crash less than a mile from home.

Why London? And Can It Work? | The MMQB
LONDON — "Welcome to the ninth International Series game," the British host said, "and that in itself, deserves a round of applause." He paused, and applause ensued.

Ravens’ Dick Cass is a central figure in NFL’s Ray Rice mess | The MMQB
The rewind button is now being pushed on the entire Ray Rice disciplinary matter from three different angles: 1) an NFL-commissioned investigation led by Robert Mueller, 2) an NFLPA-commissioned investigation led by Richard Craig Smith, and 3) Rice’s appeal of his indefinite suspension.