Not since a 33-24 win over the Oakland Raiders during the Rich Gannon era have the Denver Broncos held an opponent to zero third-down conversions. That changed after last Sunday’s dominating win over the Carolina Panthers.
The Broncos’ defense sacked Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton a total of seven times, forced a safety, picked off two passes, and kept the Panthers from converting on third down. In fact since the Broncos’ historic comeback versus the San Diego Chargers, the defense has done a sparkling job of getting off the field when the Dial-A-Down says “3.”
Prior to the undisputed turning point of the season also know as “halftime of the game in San Diego,” the Broncos’ defense was plagued by giving up big plays on third down, specifically in third-and-long situations. Through five-plus games, the defense had allowed a 46 percent (38-83) conversion rate on third down. Since the end of the second quarter in San Diego, the Broncos have allowed 9 third-down conversions in 45 tries by opposing offenses for a 20 percent success rate. In fact, since that point, 12 of the Broncos’ 17 sacks have come on third down, which is no doubt what Jack Del Rio was salivating about when he took over this above-average pass rush. Astounding, that a defense that was consistently getting gashed on third downs just weeks ago, is now garnering movie poster-like praises.
“At a high level.” – Bill Williamson, ESPN
“Fundamentally sound.” – Gary Horton, Scouts Inc.
“Suffocating.” – Mike Klis, The Denver Post
“Play-making, opportunistic.” – Kim Constantinesco, Predominantly Orange
Now doesn’t that sound like a fun program to watch?
Enough being cute. How entertaining is it to root for a ball hawking, quarterback-pressuring defense that steals the show like no other defense has in Denver for a very long time? To quote the wise words of Terrell Owens, “Get your popcorn ready.”