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Von Miller was a difference maker against the Patriots

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The Broncos linebacker made life a living hell for Tom Brady on Sunday.

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Heading into Sunday's AFC Championship game against the defending Champion New England Patriots, many fans and "experts" called out Von Miller. They said he has proven to disappear in big games, and that the Broncos will have no chance against the Patriots.

Well, they couldn't have been more wrong.

Von Miller finished the game with 5 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 tackles for a loss, an interception and a pass deflection. That's a monster game at the right time against the defending Super Bowl Champs.

Miller and the rest of the Broncos pass rushers came into this game prepared and ready to go after Tom Brady.

"I’d like to think that everybody was prepared and ready to go. We came into this game knowing what we had to do. We knew if we could get that done that the game was going to be over with. I don’t know, we came into this game with a great attitude and great energy. It just fed over into the game."

The energy from Miller, Ware, Wolfe, Jackson and the rest of the Broncos pass rushers was evident on Sunday. Brady was hit 23 times by Broncos defenders on Sunday. This was the most on a quarterback in a single game since 2006, when Cleveland Browns quarterback Charlie Frye was hit 20 times by the Ravens.

Entering this game, Brady wasn't hit more than 12 times in a game. The Broncos nearly doubled that on Sunday.

Miller did more than hit and sack Tom Brady on Sunday. Miller came up with a key interception early in the game that led to a second touchdown pass to tight end Owen Daniels.

Von said after the game that this interception proved that he can do it all in this league. Rush the passer, stop the run, and defend the pass.

"I’ll tell you, I can do it all. I’m just playing. It was just a call that we had. We wanted to put a little bit of extra sauce on Gronk. He’s a great player. All of the plays that he made toward the end of the game, it was great. Gronkowski, he’s a great player. I was only trying to put a little extra sauce on him, like I said. I got off, I rolled to him and I saw Brady looking at me so I just expanded and he threw it to me."

He really picked a great time to have the biggest game of his great career. Miller is now one game away from entering Free Agency. It's expected that the Broncos will place the Franchise Tag on their All-Pro edge rusher, and in the end, he may end up as the highest paid defensive player in the league. He is also heading to his first Super Bowl of his career. Life is good for Von Miller right now, but it wasn't always like that.

Flashback to the last time the Broncos were heading to the Super Bowl. Miller was mostly absent from the Broncos that year. He started Training Camp with a six-game suspension for violating the league's substance policy. He returned from that with a little-added weight and eventually ended the season with an ACL injury. It started to look like his NFL career was beginning to derail a bit.

Thankfully for Von, the Dallas Cowboys parted ways with DeMarcus Ware, and he ended up signing with the Denver Broncos. Miller credits Ware for helping him turn his career and most importantly his life around when he needed it the most.

"He’s great. When he walks in the door, he just has that ‘it’ about him. He’s done everything the right way, a true leader. He’s my idol. I’ve been looking up to him for a long time. It’s crazy how God works. It’s a true blessing to have him here. I needed him most at a time in my life when I was doing rough. He came in, he helped me out and look where we are today."

Since Ware has joined the Broncos, Miller has turned his life around and has returned to his dominant form on the field. Miller views him as his idol and says that he will lay his heart on the line for Ware in the Super Bowl.
"He’s a natural leader. When you’re DeMarcus Ware, you automatically think, ‘Great guy.’ You see him on—all of the commercials that he has, he’s great. The only thing that he needs is a Super Bowl. Him being my idol, I’m going to lay my heart on the line for him.

The Broncos now once again have a tough test in the Carolina Panthers. They have one of the best offenses in the league this year, they're led by do it all quarterback Cam Newton, and have one of the better defenses in the entire league.

So the Broncos will need Von to have similar success two weeks from now in Super Bowl 50 if the Broncos want to be victorious against the Panthers. But for now, let's enjoy the success that Miller had against the Tom Brady and the Patriots.