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Defensive Line: A+
If I ever get bored leading off with J.J. Watt and his eye-popping stats, then I should start covering polo or badminton.
Seven tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 3 QB hits, made a nightmare of the day for Manny Ramirez of the Broncos. Over four decades of watching pro football, and another defensive lineman that has come so far so fast escapes me. When I can finally put him in some historical perspective, he will get an article of his own.
No tipped passes this week for Watt, as that honor was passed to Earl Mitchell. Only 59 rushing yards and a ton of pressure on Manning until the game turned a whiter shade of pale after the Tate fumble.
Then, all of a sudden the only interior pass rush came from Watt. Manning had enough time during the drive to their last TD to throw eleven passes and complete six. By that time, the altitude and the length of the game were starting to slow the DL down.
The switch to a dime defense during that drive is also explains part of the slowdown, as they used as few as three pass rushers at times.
Manning getting sacked by Watt on 2nd down during the final TD drive that forced the Broncos to go for it on fourth down. Antonio Smith missed out on any sack numbers, but he and J.J are devastating bookend partners. Earl Mitchell did more than just bat down balls. He was solid in the middle and is making it hard to see re-signing Shaun Cody as a necessity.
Being asked to compel one of the most pocket-aware quarterbacks of all time to lose his cool and make some sort of mistake with just three guys. That is not really on their shoulders, but is one of the more curious calls defensive coordinators tend to make. A trap even an old sage like Wade Phillips can fall into.