'Batman & Robin' Star In Broncos’ Dress Rehearsal
In this the third preseason game, the so-called dress rehearsal for the regular season because teams install mini-game plans and play their starters into the second half, Denver topped Seattle 23-20.
Miller and Dumervil were in the face of Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson all game long, forcing multiple rushed throws and incomplete passes. The duo combined for 3.5 of Denver’s five sacks in barely more than one half of play. Miller also led the Broncos on the night with four tackles.
Led by the dynamic duo, the Broncos’ first-team defense held Seattle’s first-team offense to only three points and did not allow a first down on six of the Seahawks’ eight possessions.
"Obviously we thought a lot about Von Miller to draft him (second overall) and getting Elvis back is huge, both in locker room as well as on the field; they're a pretty good little tandem," said Denver Head Coach John Fox after the game.
Veteran safety Brian Dawkins was pleased with the play of not only Dumervil and Miller but the first-team defense as a whole saying, "you like what you see right now; we have a bunch of guys who are making plays at different times. We're not depending on one individual who can make plays; we have a bunch of guys doing a lot of good things on the football field."
The Broncos’ offense, while perhaps not as dominant and dynamic as their defensive counterparts, turned in a strong performance of their own.
After sputtering on early drives thanks to penalties, a sack and a Kyle Orton interception – what Fox called “self-inflicted wounds,” – the offense found its groove on their fourth drive. The Broncos marched 80 yards on 12 plays and scored on a two-yard run by newly-acquired running back Willis McGahee.
After a Seattle three-and-out (thanks in part to a Miller sack) to open the second half, Orton hit Eric Decker on a six yard pass for the score to cap off an eight-play, 85 yard drive.
The Orton-to-Decker touchdown gave the Broncos a 14 point lead and was first-team offense’s preseason swan song. They would not have preferred it any other way.
Kyle Orton has been anything but shy about expressing confidence in both himself and the Denver offense. After the game, which the starting units departed after amassing a 17-3 lead, Orton said, "We have a very good offense and there's not going to be very many teams that can slow us down for four quarters."
Despite the victory and overall solid play, Denver did not escape Saturday night’s contest unscathed. Two defensive starters – linebacker DJ Williams and defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley – left the game with injuries and did not return.
Williams’ suffered a dislocated elbow and will be out three to four weeks, meaning he is likely to miss the regular season opener against Oakland.
Bunkley suffered what the team is calling a knee strain after being the victim of a (legal) cut-block administered by Seattle guard Robert Gallery. The severity of Bunkley’s injury and thus the amount of time he could miss are at this point either unknown or undisclosed.
Fox, as coaches do, says he sees plenty of room for improvement and is tempering his excitement (at least publicly) stating that while his team has shown promise they have “a long way to go” and noting “it’s only preseason.”
This is wise on Fox’s part because, while the Broncos’ starters have played well in the preseason, they have done most of their damage against Buffalo and Seattle. Competition will get tougher in the regular season when Denver begins facing the likes of New England, San Diego, Green Bay, Chicago and the New York Jets.
During training camp Fox routinely said the offense was further along than the defense as not as many changes were made – both schematically and personnel wise – on the former as on the other latter. So when Fox admitted after Saturday’s game that he’s very pleased with the progress made by the defense in a short period of time, it’s hard not to be optimistic if you are a Broncos fan.
Yet Fox does not want him team marinating in the inconsequential successes of the preseason and firmly stated that the team will continue working to improve in every facet of the game.