When Derek Wolfe speaks, people listen. When Vance Joseph gave him the floor speak to the team Saturday night in their hotel prior to Sunday’s game, they listened.
"It was awesome," nose tackle Domata Peko said. "Big Wolfe's one of our leaders on this team. So Coach gave him the floor last night, and he told us, 'Hey, man, it's about us. It's not about them. We're going to flip the script on them. They're talking about them running on us. We're going to run the ball on them. ... And we're going to stop them.'"
The prophet Wolfe was right as Denver completely shut down the NFL’s 2016 leading rusher, and one of the top offenses in the game.
Like Laurie talked about yesterday, a lot of the guys took this game personally.
"I feed off of it." Wolfe said. "We feed off of it as a defense, as a team. Look at what our offense did today. I told the whole team last night that we need to flip the switch on them: 'We're going to run the ball down their throats. We're going to shut their run game down, and that's how we win this game.' And we did that."
What was fun to see was not only did Wolfe’s speech inspire the defensive guys, but it sparked something in the offense as well. They absolutely “flipped the script” on the Cowboys like Wolfe challenged them to.
In the pre-game predictions, I mentioned that Dallas’ MO is to try and control the clock, run the ball, and force teams to defend long drives which, in turn, keeps their defense fresh and the opposing team’s offense off the field; and Dallas was one of the best in the league at it last year.
In 2016, the Cowboys were 3rd in the league in time of possession averaging 31:23 per game, 2nd overall in rushing yards per game, and running back Ezekiel Elliot was the league’s leading rusher. This is in turn kept their defense off the field, which allowed them to be the #1 rushing defense in yards allowed.
Well, Denver took that blueprint and used it to perfection against them. The Broncos held the ball for 33:50 which forced Dallas to have a far below average, 26:10 in time of possession.
This in turn caused Dallas’ banged up defense to stay on the field to be completely exposed to the tune of 178 rushing yards, while Denver’s Wolfe-led defense, stayed fresh and stymie the Dallas attack.
A complete flipping of the script. Exactly what Derek Wolfe called for.
Aqib Talib summed it up best:
We had a great plan. We knew we had a great plan to stop that run and we know we’ve got dogs upfront. It might surprise all of you guys, but it doesn’t surprise us. We spend so much time on our run fits, trying to get it better than it was last year and guys like [NT Domata] Peko and [DE Derek] Wolfe, Big [DE] Shelby [Harris], they’re playing great, second-to-none. We going to ride with them boys all day.
We agree, Talib. I’ll ride with our defense any day against any team, especially if Derek Wolfe is giving the pre-game speeches.