2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Broncos: Next man up — or next team out?

Published: January 13, 2014, 1:23 pm, by Paul Klee




Here’s a riddle for the ages: the Broncos defense.

It doesn’t make sense. On the rare occasion the defense was somewhat healthy, it struggled to stop a trailered boat. Now that it has been reduced to mostly backups and preseason afterthoughts, the Broncos defense is playing its best.

If someone told you before the season the Broncos would host Tom Brady and the Patriots without these players, how optimistic would you feel?

Von Miller. Rahim Moore. Kevin Vickerson. Chris Harris. Derek Wolfe. Five starters. Not just any five starters, but arguably five of their top six or seven defensive players.

(No, I don’t see Wolfe and Moore returning to the rotation for Sunday’s AFC championship game.)

This kind of attrition should be a recipe for disaster in December and January. Instead, the Broncos defense has played its three best games over the past four weeks. It’s relative, of course, since the defense never was going to carry the Broncos. That’s Peyton Manning’s job. But lately the defense has been plenty good enough.

“They’ve overcome a lot, and I’m proud of them for it,” coach John Fox said today at Dove Valley (above).

The loss of Harris is one that tickles. In their first matchup, New England recovered from a 24-point deficit largely because Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie didn’t play in the second half. 

Will the defense hold up, with game planning and duct tape, in the AFC championship game? Given the attrition, it shouldn’t. But so far, it has.

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette