Tracy Porter was the Broncos' MVP on defense on Sunday Night Football. The other thing we found out about Porter was that he is the perfect complement to one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play the game, Champ Bailey.
Defenses for years have been targeting the cornerbacks opposite of Champ. Andre Goodman last season was an easy target because he was over 30 and had lost a step against some of the fastest receivers in the game. His performances were marked by inconsistency.
Offenses in 2012 will need to find a new strategy when they face the Broncos this year. Tracy Porter is legit. The best play of the game on defense came late in the fourth quarter when the Broncos had to settle for a field goal after unable to put the game out of reach with a touchdown. Up by six, the Broncos had to rely on the defense to stop Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On a second-down play, Roethlisberger stared down Antonio Brown and Porter jumped the route, stole the ball out of the air and raced 43 yards for a touchdown, essentially sealing the game.
Earlier in the game, Porter ran stride for stride with Mike Wallace, one of the fastest receivers in the game. The ball was thrown deep, on the money, and Porter was able to put up a hand at the last minute to knock away the football, preventing Wallace from converting the huge play. In addition to the great plays in coverage, Porter had four solo tackles.
Granted, this is just the first game of the season for the Broncos, but having a defensive back of Porter's caliber is very promising.
The Porter acquisition by the Broncos should continue to pay dividends on defense as offensive coordinators will have to take greater risks gambling against Champ or looking for matchups deep and up the middle against safeties Rahim Moore and Mike Adams or challenging the talented Nickel Back, Chris Harris in coverage against number 3 and 4 receivers.
What was most impressive about Porter's play, along with the remaining players in the Broncos' secondary, was their tight coverage and the sheer fact that they held all Steelers receivers to under 100 yards. The best performance for the Steelers came from Antonio Brown, who had four catches for 74 yards.
The Steelers are very deep at the receiver position. Some could argue that they have one of the deepest receiving corps in the NFL. In addition to Brown and Wallace, the Steelers have Emmanuel Sanders, who was held to just 55 yards, Heath Miller and Jerricho Cotchery.
As a defense, the Broncos held the Steelers to just 245 yards passing on 40 attempts. Roethlisberger completed just 22 of passes for a completion rate of 55 percent. Ben's pedestrian performance landed with a passer rating of just 79.7 to go along with the five sacks.
The Broncos defense was very impressive in the closely fought match with the Steelers, and one thing looks most promising, Champ Bailey may have finally found a complement that can shut down the other side of the field.