Denver Broncos Defense Dominates in Easy Win over the San Diego Chargers

Cecil Lammey@@cecillammeyContributor IDecember 7, 2015

Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller celebrates a sack against the San Diego Chargers during the second half in an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Gregory Bull/Associated Press

The Denver Broncos are now on a three-game winning streak after defeating the division rival San Diego Chargers by a score of 17-3 Sunday. It was somewhat of a boring game, and the Broncos won’t get any style points in this victory.

The offense wasn’t the star of the day against the Chargers. Instead, it was the defense that led the way for the Broncos.

The team was missing three starters on defense as nose tackle Sylvester Williams, linebacker DeMarcus Ware and strong safety T.J. Ward were out. Their replacements played well, but the Broncos ended up with a few more players (on offense and defense) banged up at the end of the game.

Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak knows their depth is being tested with all these injuries.

“Well, I feel good about our depth but we’re being pushed to the limit I can tell you that. I thought we came off a really physical, emotional game last week and I thought it showed a little bit through the course of the week.” Kubiak emphasized, “But, we hung in there and found a way to win, and that’s what a good team does.”

The Broncos defense dominated in Week 13 as the team cruised to an easy win.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Another Defensive Touchdown

Denis Poroy/Associated Press

The Broncos were able to score 10 points on offense, but they scored seven points on defense with another interception returned for a touchdown. This time, linebacker Danny Trevathan plucked the ball out of the air and returned it 25 yards to the end zone. The first-quarter pick-six was the first the team has had since Aqib Talib did it against the Cleveland Browns in Week 6.

Defensive Scores in 2015
WeekOpponentPlayerScoring Play
1RavensAqib Talib51-yd INT return
2ChiefsBradley Roby21-yd FUM return
5RaidersChris Harris74-yd INT return
6BrownsAqib Talib63-yd INT return
13ChargersDanny Trevathan25-yd INT return

The play was the first score of Trevathan's career, and it gave the Broncos five defensive scores on the season. That’s seventh-most in team history. With four more games to go, the Broncos could keep moving up this chart.

Most Defensive TDs in Broncos History

Harassing Philip Rivers

Dec 6, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) is sacked by Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) during the second half of the game at Qualcomm Stadium. Denver won 17-3. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-US
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Von Miller was relentless on Sunday. Of course, looking over his history in the NFL, Miller loves getting after Philip Rivers.

Von Miller Sacks by Quarterback
Philip RiversSan Diego Chargers10.0
Tom BradyNew England Patriots5.0
Alex SmithKansas City Chiefs5.0
Andy DaltonCincinnati Bengals4.0
Ben RoethlisbergerPittsburgh Steelers3.0

This was Miller’s 14th multisack game of his career. That is the fifth-most of any player in the NFL since 2011, and it ties Miller with teammate DeMarcus Ware in that category.

Most Multisack Games, NFL, Since 2011
PlayerTeamNumber of Multisack Games
J.J. WattTexans22
Elvis DumervilBroncos/Ravens17
Aldon Smith49ers/Raiders17
Justin HoustonChiefs16
Von MillerBroncos14
DeMarcus WareCowboys/Broncos14

Kubiak liked what he saw from the team’s pass-rushers.

“Yeah, I thought we had good pressure all day long. We were really consistent and we didn’t really blitz a lot.” Kubiak continued, “We played coverage and I let those guys do their job. I thought we did a good job of pushing the pocket.”

Rivers entered the game as the second-leading passer in the NFL. The Broncos held him to just 202 yards passing Sunday. In fact, the Broncos are the only team in the league that hasn't allowed a 300-yard passer this season.

Getting after the quarterback is natural for this defense, and they love to wreak havoc on opponents. The Broncos didn’t have to blitz Rivers that often to get to him or put him under duress. It’s easy to see why the Broncos were able to keep the Chargers passing game in check as Rivers didn’t have much time to throw Sunday.

Shutting Down Chargers Running Backs

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 06:   Derek Wolfe #95 of the Denver Broncos and  Shane Ray #56 of the Denver Broncos tackle  Melvin Gordon #28 of the San Diego Chargers during the first quarter of a game at Qualcomm Stadium on December 6, 2015 in San Diego, Cali
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Chargers couldn’t do much on the ground against the Broncos. They’re one of the most pass-happy teams in the league because their rushing attack has been stuck in neutral for most of the season.

Rookie first-round pick Melvin Gordon has not lived up to expectations. The former Wisconsin star (ring a bell?) drew comparisons to Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles before the draft, but the young runner has not been able to do much this season. So far this year, Gordon has only 565 yards rushing and is averaging 3.6 yards per carry.

Gordon ran for 55 yards on 12 carries against the Broncos. His 4.58 yards-per-carry average against the Broncos was his second-best average of the season (he averaged 5.5 versus the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2). The game was never really out of hand, but the Chargers couldn’t get Gordon on track.

Most of the rushing problems have to do with the poor offensive line. The Chargers have been ravaged by injuries at the position, and the Broncos were able to take advantage of them up front. The Broncos controlled the point of attack, and they were often getting to Gordon in the backfield.

All of these defensive factors added up for an easy win for the Broncos in Week 13.

All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand. Record/statistical information provided via the Broncos media department unless otherwise noted. Advanced stats via ESPN's employees-only database.

Contract and salary-cap information provided by Spotrac. Transaction history provided by Pro Sports Transactions.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.