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Broncos' T.J. Ward named AFC Defensive Player of the Week

You knew it had to be coming after Ward's outstanding performance in Game 4 against the Vikings.

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Finally we can focus on the best storyline from Sunday's game against the Vikings - the Broncos' incredible defensive performance and the outstanding play by safety T.J. Ward.

Named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his six-year career, Ward seemed to find his groove on Sunday with six tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble.

It was the strip sack on Teddy Bridgewater with 35 seconds left that saved the Broncos' three-point lead and sealed the 23-20 win.

"You know, it was more just get the guy," Ward said about the forced fumble that came from his sack. "I came around the corner and I saw I had him and I didn't know I could strip him until I got right there at the last minute. That's the milliseconds this game creates for you to make a play or not."

Making plays is definitely what this defense has been about all season.

"We were just talking about how we are finding a way to win," Ward said about the defense's mentality in a game. "Well we're not really finding ways to win, we're making ways to win, we're making plays to win games and that's what you've got to do. We talked as a defense on the sideline, DeMarcus brought us all up and said, ‘we have to make a play we have to win this game, and if that ball gets on the ground again we have to recover it this time' and that's what happened."

Ward joins former Broncos safety John Lynch as the only defensive backs in Broncos history to record two sacks and a forced fumble in the same game.The two-time Pro Bowler also became just the third NFL safety in the last five years to accomplish that feat.

We're not really finding ways to win, we're making ways to win, we're making plays to win games and that's what you've got to do.   -T.J. Ward, safety

Ward missed game one due to a suspension from a 2014 incident, but each game he's been getting better and better.

"That first game back was a little rough for me; I'm not going to lie," Ward said on Sunday after the game. "I've been working hard and trying to get back to my previous form."

He certainly seems to have done that.

Ward's honor marks the 29th time a Broncos player has taken home AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors since the award was initiated by the NFL in 1984. Cornerback Aqib Talib earned the same honor in Week 1. Last week, DeMarcus Ware was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month.

With all these awards going to defensive players, Ward knows who needs to also be recognized - defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

"I love it," Ward said of Phillips' aggressive defense. "It allows me to make a lot of plays at a lot of different positions, and it allows everybody else to make plays. I think there was about six guys that made huge plays today, and that's kudos to coach Wade's defense."