GLENDALE, Ariz. — Before Von Miller startlingly announced he and his Denver Broncos were going to kick the Arizona Cardinals where the sun don’t shine, he sought reinforcement.
“Before he said it, he asked, ‘You all got my back?’’’ said Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby, who had one of his team’s three interceptions in a 45-10 romp of the Arizona Cardinals. “We said, ‘Yeah, we got you. Go ahead and say it.’’’
So, on Tuesday, Miller stood up on the wooden box that is positioned just outside the team cafeteria and serves as the team’s post-practice press conference stand and announced, “we’re going to kick their ass.’’
It made headlines.
“Honestly, it wasn’t even for the Cardinals; it was for my teammates,’’ Miller said. “It was just to put us in that mentality: No backing down now.
“I think we have a great football team. We have great leadership. We have a great GM, great owner, great coaches, and we have great players. I just thought what we were missing is the confidence part of it.
“So, when I thought about it, it’s not even like me, but I thought it was the best thing to do to get my teammates going, and that’s great it worked.”
The Denver D then backed his claim immediately with a pick six by Todd Davis. There would be another pick six by Chris Harris Jr. There were five takeaways in all and six sacks of poor Arizona rookie Josh Rosen, who is clearly not ready to play NFL quarterback. Miller had two sacks that came with two strip techniques that were almost unfair to the unsuspecting Rosen.
So, did Miller say, “Told ya!” after his team built leads of 14-0 and 21-3 in the first quarter, or 35-3 at halftime?
“No, no, no,’’ Miller said. “It’s over with. Honestly, that puts a whole lot of pressure on you. Football has a lot of pressure, but I really just live in a different world. I’d like to stay one (profound prediction) and one (win) with that.”
Fair catch hit leaves Hamilton with MCL sprain
Early in the second quarter with the Broncos comfortably ahead, 28-3, Denver’s rookie punter returner DaeSean Hamilton signaled for the fair catch in plenty of time.
He caught it, then got plastered by Arizona’s Brandon Williams, who appeared to trip into Hamilton. Williams was flagged 15 yards for fair-catch interference.
Hamilton was knocked out of the game and wound up with a second-degree MCL sprain that may or may not hold him out a week or two.
Other Broncos injuries: Starting safety Darian Stewart was knocked out midway through the first quarter with a pinched nerve in his neck. Stewart was replaced by Will Parks, while Shamarko Thomas moved into Parks’ No.3 safety role.
Rookie running back Royce Freeman suffered a high ankle sprain in the third quarter. Another rookie running back, Phillip Lindsay, finished up the fourth quarter and wound up with 90 yards on 14 carries, including a 28-yard touchdown run.
McMahon and McManus factor
An underrated key to the Broncos’ defensive success was the pop-up kickoff executed by Brandon McManus.
Broncos special teams coordinator Tom McMahon likes to mix in the pop up so his coverage team can tackle the returner well before the 25-yard line that a touchback gives the opposition.
The key is to kick the ball between the goal line and the 5-yard line so the opponents have to return it. McManus delivered on his first four kickoffs Thursday and the Cardinals wound up with starting field position of their own 17, 16, 14 and 21 – all within the first minute of the second quarter – before McMahon had McManus boot touchbacks so his coverage team could catch their breath.
The Broncos employed the pop-up one more time late in the fourth quarter and Arizona started at its 13.
“Guys did a great job covering,’’ said McManus, who added 6 extra points and a 41-yard field goal. “In the preseason we covered well against them, so we thought we could well in the game here, too.
Those guys were flying down the field wanting to make a play. They did a great job setting up the defense.’’
McManus and Mike
Mired in a bit of a coin flip slump – the Broncos had lost three in a row – McManus asked for help.
“So, I’ve been pretty poor on coin toss selections,’’ said McManus. “So, I asked Mike Sullivan the QBs coach and he told me to go with tails. I went with tails and we won. And then we pinned them at 17, the first one, and then the pick six. I tried to give Mike Sullivan a game ball myself.’’
The four game balls went instead to the pick sixes, Todd Davis and Chris Harris Jr.; Miller, for kicking booty with his two strip sacks; and receiver Emmanuel Sanders for throwing for one touchdown and catching another.