When you take the best player of a Super Bowl champion, doing a top three plays post is nearly impossible. Von Miller was devastating off the edge all season long and out of the 19 games he played it becomes a tall order to narrow things down to just three plays.
For us Denver Broncos fans, Miller excited us with interceptions, sack dances (even the robot) and pelvic thrusts - all while being held by offensive linemen on nearly every play. He was an unstoppable force in 2015 and if he hadn't be held so much could have been the Defensive Player of the Year.
What I did was look at two things, extraordinary effort and impact to the game. What I came away with were three plays from his last two games and one honorable mention.
In most big games, players hope to make one or two big game-changing plays to help their team win. In Super Bowl 50, Miller made three of those game changing plays. Without each, the flow of the game could very well have changed and the Broncos may not have won.
This play has Miller in coverage and looks to be beaten down the sideline for a first and goal, but at the last second Miller swats the ball free to force an incomplete pass. The play saves what probably would have ended up a touchdown for the Carolina Panthers.
However, here are the three plays I think were Miller's most outstanding individual plays of the 2015 season.
3. Strip/Sack to Seal Lombardi Trophy
Until this play, we all felt like Super Bowl 50 was definitely in doubt and that the defense would once again have to stave off a late charge to win the game. It was like that all year long, from the interception in the end zone in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens to the two-point conversion interception in the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, the Broncos defense held the line an NFL record 11 times in games decided by one score or less.
Not this time. Von Miller's transcendent play in the Super Bowl would strike again.
From this angle, you can see Miller being egregiously held for the umpteenth time in the game, but it didn't matter. The Broncos were to be crowned Super Bowl champions after this play sealed all doubt.
2. Destruction of Tom Brady
This play didn't have a decisive effect on the course of the game, but it displayed Miller's incredible athletic ability and speed off the edge. Tom Brady had no chance as he took one of the harder of the 24 hits he took on that day. Von Miller and the Broncos defense would not be denied in this game, putting the league on notice that they were playing otherworldly at a time when champions were made.
1. Strip/Sack TD Tone-Setter
The game of football is all about momentum and mentality, which I believe makes it far more unique than any other sport in existence. A devastating play early in a big game is often a 'tone-setter' that a team can feed off of, while the other team reels off of.
As Broncos fans, we experienced the other side of that on the first snap of Super Bowl 48. To have Miller come off the edge in the first quarter to rattle Cam Newton badly on this strip/sack that Malik Jackson and DeMarcus Ware would corral in the end zone for a touchdown is a play that told all of us that the Panthers offense was in serious trouble in that game.
I really could watch that GIF all day long, it's that impressive.
This was undoubtedly the most important play Miller made all season long. It displayed all of the things I was looking for: incredible athleticism, extraordinary effort and massive impact on the game. Miller straight abused Mike Remmers by simply gliding past him with pure speed to the edge, then with incredible effort Miller robbed Newton of the ball for a huge touchdown for the Broncos defense.
Frankly, it seemed cliche to use mostly plays from Super Bowl 50, but Von Miller really did save his best for last. In future Top 3 posts for other players, I promise it will not be all from a single game. Miller was just that good on Super Sunday.
What are your top three plays from Von Miller in 2015?