Updated: December 27, 2012 at 12:00 am
ENGLEWOOD • The Denver Broncos lead the NFL with 48 sacks, and all those crumpled quarterbacks in their wake can blame not only Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller but also Jack Del Rio and Peyton Manning.
Dumervil and Miller have 28½ sacks, earning the league’s most prolific pass-rushing tandem return trips to the Pro Bowl — although they’re determined to spend all-star weekend preparing for the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
Miller’s outlandish athletic ability and Dumervil’s freakishly long arms that give him built-in leverage on every tackle he faces are two of the biggest reasons for the Broncos’ league-best 10-game winning streak.
In their eyes, though, the credit for all these sacks goes to the team’s two biggest offseason additions, Del Rio and Manning, who embarked on comebacks in Colorado after messy exits from their former teams.
When Manning arrived from Indianapolis in March, Miller envisioned the four-time MVP leading those famous clock-chewing drives that would allow the Broncos to turn loose their “Orange Rush.”
“We wanted to be the best together, me and Elvis, and when we picked up Peyton Manning, we knew we had a chance to get it done,” Miller said. “If we could get up a little bit, that allows us to do what we do best.”
When Del Rio became Denver’s seventh defensive coordinator in seven seasons after his firing as Jacksonville’s coach, Dumervil imagined the former linebacker’s reputed run-stuffing defenses enabling the Broncos to get after quarterbacks.
“Peyton coming here, it was big, but if you stop the run like Jack’s teams did in Jacksonville, you get a chance to rush the passer,” Dumervil said.
Teams no longer run roughshod over the Broncos, who rank third in the league against the run (hello Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles) a year after ranking 22nd. They get after the quarterback better than anyone and they rank sixth against the pass after finishing 18th last year. Miller is the second player since the league started tracking forced fumbles in 1994 to have racked up at least 15 sacks, 25 tackles for loss and forced five fumbles.
Broncos right guard Chris Kuper (migraine, ankle) returned to practice on a limited basis. Brandon Stokley (thigh) was limited.