It was a good performance from the Denver Broncos defense, but they made a few mistakes late in the fourth quarter that allowed the Indianapolis Colts to drive down the field for a game-winning field goal.
The Broncos did a good job of shutting down the run and getting after Colts' quarterback Jacoby Brissett. A big reason for Denver's success was the veteran defensive lineman Derek Wolfe.
Wolfe was my MVP for the game, and you can listen as to why in the video above. There are a few plays of Wolfe’s that stand out, though, which played a huge part as to the reasoning behind him being my MVP for this game.
These plays I'll break down for you are just three of the best snaps of the day from Wolfe, but there were many plays that could have been selected just as easily.
Play 1: 14:15 | First Quarter | Stunt-man
Wolfe is lined up as a 5-tech and as the rep goes on, he and OLB Von Miller execute a stunt. Stunts have really become a big part of the Broncos' pass rush, and they've been a success. We see some of that success here.
When Wolfe gets passed onto the right tackle, he has the tackle at the disadvantage. Miller got him off balance and on his heels, which Wolfe is able to use brute strength to bowl over him.
This gets Wolfe there at the feet of the quarterback, with LB Alexander Johnson blitzing and getting his hands in the face of the quarterback to force a pass that Chris Harris, Jr. had a chance to intercept had he gone for it.
Play 2: 12:30 | Fourth Quarter | A Well-Deserved Sack
Wolfe is lined up as a 3-tech, and DL Dre’Mont Jones adjusts presnap from the opposite 1-tech to same-side 1-tech. This puts more pressure on the center and right guard, and the stunt the Broncos run here makes the jobs of those offensive linemen markedly more difficult.
Wolfe shoots the gap between the center and guard and both start to collapse on him. This gives Jones the B-gap pretty cleanly. The RG breaks off the double team, but it is already too late. Jones has the advantage, and Wolfe has the shoulder of the center and has his shoulders turned from the line of scrimmage. Both have a shot at the QB.
Also on the outside, Miller got chipped by the tight end, but still gets the outside shoulder of the tackle and is able to turn the corner. Johnson also beats the LG and gets him turned to the line of scrimmage. Four of the five rushers win their matchups and collapse on the QB.
Brissett did a good job all day of escaping from sacks, and tries to get out of it here. Wolfe wraps him up and takes him down, though. If Wolfe didn’t, there was plenty of space for Brissett to escape and make a throw.
Play 3: 7:48 | Fourth Quarter | Stip-Sack Attack
Wolfe initially gets shut out of this play. OLB Malik Reed, DL DeMarcus Walker, and Miller each apply pressure on the QB, with Miller getting his hands on him. Brissett breaks away, though, leaving Miller empty-handed, a harbinger of the game-deciding final Colts' drive. When Miller gets there, the lineman engaged with Wolfe starts to ease up. This is a good example of why players are coached to play to the whistle, and the Colts didn’t do that.
This lets Wolfe come in cleanly and he gets his hand on the ball, knocking it lose. It is a strip-sack for Wolfe, and the Broncos recover the ball. This gave the Broncos possession, in great field position, late in the game, to go and get points.
Alas, on the ensuing possession, the Broncos failed to move the ball after two bad, easily-read pass plays and a run play that went nowhere. The worst being the third-down play-call of a WR screen to the TE Noah Fant.
Denver has tried multiple screens to the rookie with next to no success. So at a key point in the game, why did OC Rich Scangarello go to it? I digress. The Broncos defense did its job.
Derek Wolfe has really turned it around for the Broncos after struggling to start the season in Vic Fangio's scheme. Wolfe is tied with Miller and Walker for most sacks for the team (four), has five tackles for a loss and six QB hits.
Many were counting Wolfe out coming into the season, but Denver has a value for him. They have spoken about contract extensions prior to the season, and he wants to stay in Denver. His continued good play only makes an extension more likely.