The Broncos won 45-21. The talk will once again be about Denver's offense, about how Peyton Manning threw four touchdowns passes in leading the Broncos to 38 straight points after they had trailed 21-7 in the third quarter.
I mean, that's been the theme of the season, right? The Broncos' record-breaking offense? The offense with the most points scored through the first eight games of an NFL season?
The Broncos' offense is as good as advertised. After a first half which saw them struggle to just seven points, Manning and Co. rebounded after two turnovers early on in the third quarter to lead the Broncos on four touchdown drives in the second half.
What's lost in all of the talk of the Broncos' offense is the unit on the other side—the defense.
How were the Broncos able to remain in the game when the offense was struggling? How were the Broncos able to rebound in spite of two turnovers by the offense that led directly to two touchdowns? What unit made life a misery for Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III?
None other than the defense.
Yes, that's right. The Broncos do have a defense.
The pass defense may have ranked 32nd entering this game. The defense as a whole may have ranked 27th in points allowed per game before Week 8's contest versus the Redskins.
But which unit shined brightest on Sunday?
Denver's defense forced five turnovers, along with two other fumbles which weren't recovered by Denver's defense, and sacked Griffin III three times. The sack total does not do the Broncos justice; they relentlessly pressured and hit the second-year quarterback from the first whistle until the final one.
Put this into perspective—the Redskins ran a total of 70 plays. They gained just 266 yards. They averaged just 3.8 yards per play versus Denver's defense. Not per carry. Per play.
Of the Redskins' 14 offensive drives, they punted seven times and turned the ball over five times. The Broncos' defense allowed just 14 points (the other touchdown was scored on a Manning interception).
This was despite the absence of Champ Bailey.
The Broncos defense may have had its best performance of the season in Sunday's 45-21 victory over the Redskins, but the fact of the matter is, the Broncos have been doing this all season long.
Just what have they been doing?
The defense has kept the team in the game when the offense has struggled. For those who just look at box scores and marvel over Denver's record-breaking offensive numbers, the offense does have its struggles in the first halves of games—it scored just 10 points versus the Giants, 14 points each versus the Ravens and Jaguars, and just seven points versus the Redskins.
Although the defense struggled versus the Ravens in Week 1, the Broncos were either tied or held leads in the three other games when the offense struggled in the first half.
The Broncos' defense has its deficiencies, but it also has its strengths—the defense ranks first in rushing yards allowed, second in rushing yards per attempt and seventh in interceptions forced.
The defense may not be one of the best of all time, and it may not even be one of the best in the NFL, but one thing is for certain—the squad gives the Broncos a chance to win.
The Broncos' 45-21 victory over the Redskins in Week 8 was the perfect example of that.
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