There was a lot of skepticism going into Thursday’s game about the Denver Broncos defense. With Von Miller suspended, and Elvis Dumervil in a Raven’s jersey, I think people were fearing the unknown since Dumervil and Miller were such household names last year, combining for 27.5 sacks.
Shaun Philips celebrates sacking Joe Flacco (Photo Credit: Eric Lars Bakke-Denver Broncos)
Shaun Philips, who came to Denver after Dumervil chose to not return in March after a fax conundrum, had, according to teammate Derek Wolfe, “a huge chip on his shoulders,” resulting from the doubters. But Philips had a total of 2.5 sacks Thursday, basically putting any worries at ease. According to denverbroncos.com, Phillips didn’t see the breakdowns from detached observers as offering calculated analysis; he viewed them as an attack of his proficiency.
“Of course, because that’s basically saying, ‘Shaun Phillips, you suck. Denver Broncos defensive line, you suck,’” Phillips said.
You could talk about, as independent analysis Andrew Mason did, how the very liberal rotation of the defensive line helped to wear down the Raven’s offensive line with no lineman playing less than 18% of the snaps, and no lineman playing more than 79% of the snaps. However, the comradery the men share could be more of a threat than just how the line rotates during the game.
“We have the closest D-line group I’ve ever been a part of, other than maybe my senior year in college (at the University of Cincinnati),” Wolfe said. “We were pretty close last year, and I didn’t think we could get any closer than that, but we have. When people doubt you, you either grow apart or come together. We’ve come together.”
There are only five games left without starting linebacker Von Miller, and with what was witnessed on Thursday, the skeptics have shut their mouths, at least for now. The Denver Broncos travel to MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Giants on Sunday, where the Giants lead the series, 6-5-0. This includes Super Bowl XXI, where the Giants beat the Broncos 39-20 back in 1987. Kickoff is at 2:25 MT time.