NEW ORLEANS - You get what you emphasize.
The Denver Broncos’ front lines were challenged by their coaches this week, particularly on the defensive side. The Broncos had surrendered 100-yard rushers in back-to-back games and were steamrolled for 218 total rushing yards the previous week against the Oakland Raiders.
It didn’t figure to get any easier against the New Orleans Saints, who had rushed for 247 yards the previous week against the San Francisco 49ers.
Yet, the Denver defense stood strong Sunday, swarming to the ball on seemingly every play while holding New Orleans to 80 yards rushing on 21 carries, or less than 4.0 yards a pop.
“We didn’t let them run, that’s what it was,’’ said Broncos safety Darian Stewart. “That was the key. (Strong safety) T.J. (Ward) went down and moved closer to the box.’’
“Coming off not our best game and knowing New Orleans were coming off a real good rushing game, we knew stopping the run was going to be a big emphasis,’’ said defensive end Jared Crick, who tied Ward and linebacker Todd Davis with a team-most six tackles. “We’ve got a good game plan going in and we executed today.’’
Broncos-Chiefs could be flex candidate
The Broncos could return from their bye week with a later start for their next game Nov. 27 against the Kansas City Chiefs at soon-to-be-renamed Sports Authority Field at Mile High. NBC Sunday Night Football currently has the on-paper mismatch of the 7-1 New England Patriots playing at the 3-7 New York Jets that night.
Don’t be surprised if NBC flexes out of that game and instead moves the Broncos-Chiefs game to its Sunday night slot. The 7-3 Broncos and 7-2 Chiefs figure to be far more competitive than the Patriots-Jets both on the field and in the TV ratings.
The Broncos already have the maximum five prime time games on their schedule this season. They’ve played four and have a fifth on Christmas night at Kansas City. The NFL allows for a sixth game to be flexed to Sunday night.
Sambrailo replaces Stephenson
Last month, Donald Stephenson returned from a strained left calf to replace Ty Sambrailo at right tackle. The move was made in part because Sambrailo was struggling.
In the third quarter of the Broncos’ win at New Orleans, Sambrailo replaced Stephenson. The move was made in large part because Stephenson has not played well upon his return.
The Broncos signed Stephenson off the free-agent market with a three-year, $14 million contract that pays him $6 million this season, although his final two years are not guaranteed.
“All I can say is it looked like Donald struggled at times, but we went into the game saying Ty was going to play some,’’ Kubiak said. “That’s nothing against Donald, it’s probably more Ty working his tail off and getting himself in position to contribute to the team.’’
Billy Winn got his first start of the season at the defensive end position normally occupied by Derek Wolfe, who was out with a fractured elbow. …
The Broncos went with only two running backs as Juwan Thompson was inactive. So was cornerback Taurean Nixon, who was disappointed because he played his college ball here at Tulane University. Dressing instead were receiver Cody Latimer and defensive tackle Darius Kilgo.
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