- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Random thoughts from Denver’s 23-20 win against Seattle on Saturday night:
I know some folks are going to be excited that Tim Tebow led the Broncos to the game-winning field goal. But the real story in Denver was the pass rush.
If the Denver Broncos are going to be legitimately improved in 2011 it’s not going to be because Tebow can lead the backups. It will be because the defense -- ranked No. 32 in the NFL last season -- is improved. It looked improved all camp, and Saturday night it looked like it has a special ability -- it can get to the quarterback.
Denver had five sacks. Rookie linebacker Von Miller, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, is showing immense potential. He had two sacks. He has three sacks in the past two games. Miller hit the quarterback four times against Seattle. Elvis Dumervil added 1.5 sacks. Dumervil led the NFL with 17 sacks in 2009 before missing all of last season. Dumervil has excelled this camp at defensive end.
Miller and Dumervil took over this game. If that continues during the season, Denver could have something nice on its hands defensively.
The rest of the defense played well. Denver’s starters outscored Seattle 17-3 until they left in the third quarter.
Denver did lose defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley (knee) and linebacker D.J. Williams (elbow). The Denver Post is reporting Williams will be out 3-4 weeks. Denver opens the season against Oakland in 15 days. So, the Broncos will likely be without their leading tackler last season for the opener. That, of course, will, put more pressure on Miller and Dumervil to make plays.
The Broncos hope neither injury is serious. Denver is thin at defensive tackle. It’s no surprise that Denver put in a claim on defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer before he was awarded to Carolina. That is Denver’s biggest need area. Expect it to scour the waiver wire at the spot in the next week.
Tebow was Tebow-ish. He completed 6 of 11 passes for 93 yards. He fumbled two balls. As Denver coach John Fox said after the game, it wasn't always pretty, but Tebow did find a way to move the ball.
Brady Quinn didn’t play Saturday. This was by design to get Tebow more repetitions. Last week, Quinn spelled starter Kyle Orton and he threw 16 passes compared to Tebow’s two passes. It will be interesting to see if Tebow gains on Quinn this week in their battle to be Orton’s backup. Orton continued to look solid Saturday night. He completed 16 of 23 passes for 236 yards.
Rookie tight end Julius Thomas continued to look like a weapon. He had 70 yards on four catches. Expect to see a lot of him early in the regular season. Receivers Eddie Royal and Eric Decker both contributed four catches as well.
Denver’s running game was solid but not spectacular. Knowshon Moreno had 47 yards on 10 carries. Denver would be happy with a 4.7 average from him. Willis McGahee had just 25 yards on 10 carries. Denver’s run game will be counted on, and it still needs to prove it can handle the responsibility.
Denver needs to work on special teams this week after it allowed a 105-yard kickoff return for a score Saturday night.