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Big day for Broncos leads to big numbers - but none as great as 2-0

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Well, except for “Eight Whole Yards.”

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

62.

The number of minutes for a weather delay where the Broncos played Connect Four, watched football and ate PB&J before going back on the field to remind the Cowboys that this Wild West town is run by the animals - the Broncos.

33:50

The number of minutes the Broncos’ offense had the ball.

4.

The number of passing touchdowns Trevor Siemian had on the day.

118.

The number of yards C.J. Anderson put on the leader board.

103.

The number of yards Aqib Talib ran back for his 10th career pick-six - fourth on the all-time NFL list.

2.

The number of games the Broncos have won out of two so far.

But of all the interesting numbers to note in the obliteration of the Dallas Cowboys Sunday afternoon, there is one most worthy.

8.

As in EIGHT WHOLE YARDS for supposed phenom running back Ezekiel Elliott.

After the game, Elliott was asked when was the last time he was held to eight yards rushing.

“Never.”

Exactly.

Because he had never faced the Broncos defense.

“We made a point to stop the runs. We knew that no team can really beat us through the air, no team,” Brandon Marshall said after the game. “If we stop the run, I feel like we’re unstoppable as a defense. We did that. I just heard Zeke had eight yards. That’s crazy. They have one of the best rushing attacks in the league. For us to hold him to eight yards and hold the team to 40 yards, that’s special.”

Twitter certainly thought so.

The Cowboys knew the No Fly Zone would be patrolling the air space and that the Broncos’ biggest weakness - prior to Sunday, that is - was stopping the run.

Sure the Broncos had held Melvin Gordon to 54 yards the week before, but the Cowboys had Elliott, right?

Wrong.

Joe Woods would have none of that assumption. The defensive coordinator’s plan was to “clog every gap,” according to head coach Vance Joseph, and that’s exactly what they did.

“Joe had a great plan. ...If [Elliott] did pop a run, it was going to be on a missed tackle,” the coach said. “It wasn’t going to be on an open gap.”

In fact, the coach didn’t think giving the ball to Elliott any more carries would have made a difference in the Cowboys’ abysmal rushing stats.

“That was our plan, to make them throw the football. He could have run it 15 more times for 10 more yards, but that wouldn’t help him win,” Joseph said. “Again, Joe had a great plan to make them throw the football. Nobody has played them that way. It was definitely a surprise to them, in my opinion.”

Chris Harris Jr. - who had a superb game, tallying one interception and six tackles while knocking away two passes and even playing safety - added that their plan worked to perfection as the Front 7 did exactly as asked and expected.

“We loaded the box. We put everyone in there that we could possibly put in there. Those guys did not give [Elliott] an inch,” he said. “When we do that, that’s what we expect from [the Front 7]. We don’t expect them to give up an inch or a yard. They were great for us, and we didn’t allow [the Cowboys] to get third-and-threes or third-and-fours. That’s huge.”

Domata Peko wouldn’t let the Front 7 take all the credit, though. He was happy to spread the love to the entire unit.

“Stopping the run, it all starts from the unit. It’s not just us in the front. It’s a team thing. It is an attitude,” said the nose tackle. “We had a good Dallas offensive line, one of the best units in the league, Ezekiel Elliot one of the best backs in the league. ...It’s about challenges and our D-Line, our front seven and our defense stepped up to the challenge today, and we shut them down.”

Once the Cowboys’ safety net was taken away, the talented-but-inexperienced Dak Prescott was forced out of his comfort zone, throwing into the No Fly Zone time and time again.

Fifty times, in fact. With success on only 30 of those, thanks to both the coverage and the pass rush.

“We just wanted to stop the run. That’s what they do the best and they have the best offensive line in the National Football League. Stopping the run was our priority,” said Von Miller, who broke his five-game streak without a sack and contributed two on Prescott.

But it was his 12 pressures that possibly made an even bigger impact.

“We did a great job, the interior linemen played well. We had a solid run defense,” Miller added. “Once you cut off a priority like that, you make them change the game plan, the rest is history.”

It was certainly a borderline historic performance by the Broncos defense - two sacks, two interceptions including a pick-six, 40 total rushing yards allowed and just 17 points on the board.

“It’s great,” said Aqib Talib, who had two near-interceptions before finally getting his 10th career pick-six with a minute left to play, sealing a game that had been done a quarter before. “Our D-line played great. We had our hands on the football. Dak doesn’t even throw picks. We got to pick Dak off. We got turnovers. Our offense ran the ball great, D.T. and ‘E’ caught the ball great. It’s an all-around great ballgame from the Broncos.”

The Broncos’ defense - which is used to getting accolades for its performance - was thrilled to tip its helmet to the other side of the ball where Trevor Siemian & Co. contributed five touchdowns, 231 yards passing and 178 rushing, not to mention multiple sustained drives that gave the defense a break it hasn’t had since 2015.

“Whenever everybody’s out there doing their job, that’s great. We have to do our job. We did our job defensively and we got the ball back to them. They put points on the board,” Miller said. “Whenever you have a formula like that, the outcome is always good.”

The prediction, of course, was that Elliott would be the only running back lighting the field on fire, but his game proved to be only smoke while Denver’s C.J. Anderson rolled through the Cowboys’ line for 118 yards and Jamaal Charles blazed around it for another 48.

“He played his tail off,” Siemian said of Anderson. “[He had] a bunch of highlight-reel runs but then a bunch of bloody, ugly, four-yard runs that don’t show up on a stat sheet as much. But he played really, really well. Him with those guys up front I think was a good combo.”

Anderson noted that the offense isn’t yet where it wants to be, pointing to the two sacks and two turnovers, but it’s a very encouraging start.

“It’s not where we want it to be. We still have, I call it, ‘dead time,’” Anderson said. “We were hot. We were good, then we came out cold and we had the turnover. Our goal is to get in the box every possession. Every possession, get in the box, somehow, some way. ...But we’re definitely going to take this performance we had today.”

As they should. But don’t get carried away with calling this a “statement game” just yet.

It was a beatdown pure and simple. But it’s only Week 2.

“I think it’s still so early. We’re only two games into the season. I’ve seen how quickly things can change in this league and I’m very, very happy to obviously start the way we have, but we’re going to go into Buffalo, and Buffalo doesn’t care if we’ve won two games or if we’re 0-2,” Siemian said after his big game of four touchdown passes to one INT. “It’s going to be a great challenge for us. We’re just taking it week by week.”

62

4.

118.

103.

2.

8.

If that last stat was my favorite of the game, my favorite on the day was a different number.

Zero.

As in ZERO NFL analysts who thought the Broncos could pull out the victory.

2-0, baby!

Poll

Which big play of the game told you the Broncos were winning this?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    I knew it after the first run-stuff of Ezekiel Elliott on 2nd-and-6
    (117 votes)
  • 4%
    Demaryius Thomas’ 27-yard pass play
    (24 votes)
  • 22%
    The Siemian-Sanders connection for the first touchdown
    (133 votes)
  • 19%
    C.J. Anderson’s 28-yard run
    (114 votes)
  • 7%
    The No Fly Zone’s consistent "no fly"
    (45 votes)
  • 18%
    I was totally confident after Talib’s 103-yard pick-six :)
    (106 votes)
  • 8%
    "Shasta"
    (47 votes)
586 votes total Vote Now