Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Losing outside linebacker Von Miller was a huge blow for the Broncos. In other obvious news, Peyton Manning is pretty good.
Fortunately for that defense, Danny Trevathan has been there to mitigate the damage this year, both when Miller was suspended and after he was knocked out for the season.
Trevathan isn't a pass-rushing terror like Miller, but his solid all-around play has buoyed a Denver front seven that might have collapsed without him. He led the team in tackles this season and was the 11th-best 4-3 outside linebacker in the league, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
He had a big game against the Patriots, as The MMQB's Robert Klemko helped illuminate:
With just under three minutes left in the third quarter and Denver up, 20-3, Brady dropped back on 3rd-and-2 and located running back Shane Vereen tip-toeing across the middle. The throw was perfect, and the catch and first down seemed complete until Trevathan came crashing down from his weakside linebacker spot to separate Vereen from the ball. It was a moment of triumph for the undersized 23-year-old linebacker who started the season as backup and took offense to the popular media opinion that the Patriots would make the AFC Championship Game a shootout (the Vegas over/under: 57.5).
“I usually don’t even watch that media stuff, but this time I took heed to it,” said Trevathan, whose team-high eight tackles were key in holding New England to 64 rushing yards. “I took it as a personal challenge. I showed the D-line and the linebackers in the locker room on Wednesday on my phone. I said we needed to step up.”
The second-year linebacker won't be in the spotlight, but he will have his hands full accounting for Marshawn Lynch—a running back he grew up watching—and helping contain Russell Wilson.
It sounds like he will be up to the challenge.