Broncos Defense Should Get More Credit for Wins
The situation in Denver is heating up. The Broncos have rattled off six wins in a row, including seven of their last eight, and Tim Tebow has the Mile High City rocking. As the clock ticks closer and closer toward another eagerly anticipated game, Tebow again takes center stage as the Patriots roll into town. This time, like last week’s game, will it be their defense which leads them to victory or will it be their unconventional, but clutch offense?
When the Bears and their veteran-laden defense came into Denver to take on the Broncos, we all watched, captivated, as Tim Tebow struggled early. He looked every bit of what his detractors have called him; inaccurate. He over-threw targets, missed easy completions and even threw an interception — something he hadn’t done at all during the Broncos win streak.
The game wasn’t Tebow’s best, by any means. But if it wasn’t Tebow, the how did the Broncos win? This time, their defense took center stage.
The case could be made that the last week wasn’t the first time the Broncos defense was the reason for a Broncos victory. Sure, I understand that argument. But what about Tebow’s impeccably timed game-winning drives? What about the late-game drive against the Jets when he marched his team 95 yards up the field before capping it off with a 20 yard mad scramble to the end zone? Didn’t he win that game? What about in Minnesota when the defense gave up 32 points to one of the league’s worst passing offenses? Wasn’t it Tebow then?
The difference between those games and the one against the Bears is that during that game, the catalyst for their victory was unmistakably the defense. Very quietly the Broncos defense, a unit led by future hall-of-famers Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey, has put together an effective season in its own right.
The Broncos defense ranks in the top half of the NFL in passing yards gained, average yards gained per play and total first downs gained. But even beyond that is their speed and propensity to make plays when absolutely needed — which is exactly what happened on Sunday.
As Tebow led the team back into the game offensively, the defense had his back.
As the Bears were driving late in the fourth quarter, and Marion Barber inexplicably ran out of bounds to stop the clock, it was D.J. Williams, linebacker, there to forcefully escort him to the sideline. And yet again, as the Bears drove in overtime, looking unstoppable as the collective hopes of everyone in Denver began to fade, it was again the defense that made a stop they undeniably had to have. The Broncos defense swarmed Barber as he burst through the scrum of bodies as Jason Hunter forced the now infamous fumble and Elvis Dumervil recovered.
From there we all knew what was coming. Tim Tebow and the offense were going to do what they needed to in order to secure the victory. Amidst all the Tebow praise and Barber bashing, somehow the defense was forgotten.
But the defense won that game. Not the offense and not Tebow.
It’s the defense that faced the Jets’ offense and held Mark Sanchez to zero touchdown passes, something still only the Baltimore Ravens can say they’ve accomplished. It’s the same defense that rendered Phillip Rivers and the Chargers high-octane offense virtually ineffective as he completed just over 50 percent of his passes. And we all know how effective Phillip Rivers has been over the past few years.
The Broncos will have defense tested again this weekend as all eyes once more turn to Denver. In a nationally televised and overly-anticipated game, the Tebow led Broncos welcome the Patriots and their second ranked passing offense to Mile High. Just as they were against the Bears, the Broncos are considered underdogs. But if they do somehow pull this one out, as they did that game, will it be their offense or defense that gets the credit?
Luckily, we don’t have long to wait for the outcome.