After getting run roughshod for two weeks ago by the Philadelphia Eagles, the Denver Broncos defense held the New England Patriots to 99-yards rushing. Not great, but okay. This week, the run defense bounced back with a dominating performance against the Cincinnati Bengals.
They held Joe Mixon to 49 yards on 20 carries for a paltry 2.9 yards per carry. The Bengals tried to get Giovani Bernard involved too, but he was held to minus four yards on three carries.
According to Pro Football Focus, the top three graded Broncos players were all along the defensive line with the fourth highest being linebacker Brandon Marshall who help plug the gaps in the run game.
Top 5 Grades:
DI Derek Wolfe, 86.0 overall grade
DI Adam Gotsis, 85.0 overall grade
DI Domata Peko Sr., 83.8 overall grade
LB Brandon Marshall, 83.4 overall grade
G Ron Leary, 81.0 overall grade
A special mention for Peko, who faced down his former team with a vengeance. He had five run stops and was in on a lot of the inside rushes from the Bengals. He and Wolfe finished with nine total run stops, which is what you would want to see from the defensive line against the run.
DI DOMATA PEKO SR., 83.8 OVERALL GRADE
Already mentioned above that Peko notched five run stops on the afternoon, he also tacked on two more in coverage, snuffing out two Bengals screen passes. Peko has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence since signing on with the Broncos, he currently owns a 79.1 overall grade for the season after posting grades ranging from 43.0-50.6 over the last four seasons. He’s recorded 19 stops for Denver on 339 defensive snaps this season, the last time he had more than 20 stops in a season (23 in 2014) it took him over 700 snaps to earn them.
The defense did a solid job up front, but it was the secondary that gave up the big touchdown plays that ultimately helped the Broncos lose their sixth consecutive game of the season.
The good news for fans is that the run defense is legit. The Eagles game was just a blip on the radar and the interior of the line is back to its former self. Now they just need to get some offense and some red zone stops to win some games down the stretch.