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Broncos 3rd and long: grounding the pigeons

The Denver Broncos defense had a pretty good day, but how well did they do on third downs? We break that down here.

Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Welcome to another year of 3rd and long!

For those who have been following my regular season weekly I will be doing what I have been doing for six years now. For those who are new to the column, I will be tracking two defensive stats that are fairly critical:

  1. How our defense does at stopping the run on first down. Keeping the opposing team’s offense off-schedule is critical.
  2. How our defense does when we get the opposing offense in 3rd and long (7 or more needed to gain). Our defense is built to be deadly in obvious passing situations

If the Denver Broncos defense does well in both they generally win, assuming their offense does not crap the bed.

So how did the defense do at stopping the run vs the rainy city b*tch pigeons? They ran the ball eleven times on first down and gained 34 yards - 3.09 yards per carry. Twenty-four of those thirty-four yards came on one carry. On their other 10 first down runs they gained 10 yards total. So outside of one long run, the first down run defense was outstanding. The 24-yard run came late in the first quarter when we had them pinned at their own five. It was the play where Chris Carson hurdled Bradley Roby. If Roby makes that tackle, it’s a four yard gain and we hold them to 14 yards on 11 first down carries. With two games not yet in the books while I type this, Denver is currently 6th in the league at stopping the run on first down.

Our defense was able to force Seattle into eight 3rd and long situations. Seattle converted on two.

Quarter Time ToGo Location Detail Result
1 11:18 16 SEA 10 Chris Carson middle for 10 yards (tackle by Chris Harris and Darian Stewart) run but short
2 14:08 17 DEN 17 Russell Wilson pass incomplete short middle intended for Brandon Marshall incomplete
2 8:14 9 SEA 26 Russell Wilson pass incomplete short left intended for David Moore incomplete
2 2:21 12 DEN 34 Russell Wilson sacked by Von Miller for -5 yards. Russell Wilson fumbles (forced by Von Miller), recovered by Ethan Pocic at DEN-33 sack
3 6:09 7 DEN 20 Russell Wilson pass complete deep right to Brandon Marshall for 20 yards, touchdown catch conversion-TD
3 3:01 7 SEA 23 Russell Wilson pass incomplete short left intended for Brandon Marshall is intercepted by Justin Simmons at SEA-35 interception
3 0:36 11 SEA 34 Russell Wilson pass complete short left to Brandon Marshall for 15 yards (tackle by Todd Davis) conversion by catch
4 0:02 19 SEA 14 Russell Wilson pass incomplete deep left intended for Jaron Brown is intercepted by Adam Jones at SEA-40 interception

The first conversion was the TD catch from the other Brandon Marshall where he pushed off against Roby, but did not get called for it. Here’s a screen capture from the play showing Marshall shoving Roby in the neck before the ball gets there.

The other conversion on 3rd and long was also a throw to the other Brandon Marshall. It was on the final Seattle TD drive (the 51-yard catch by Lockett. On the six times where we stopped them on 3rd and long, two resulted in picks and one resulted in a sack. Admittedly one of the picks was on the desperation heave at the end of the game.

For the game we held Seattle to two of twelve on 3rd down conversions, meaning that their only two conversions were on 3rd and long. They were only in 3rd and really short one time (3rd and 1) and they threw an incomplete pass. They had two 3rd and 3 situations (sack and incompletion) and only one 3rd and medium (3rd and 5 - Chris Harris Jr. sack).