ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos will try to replicate their energy and emotion from their 45-10 blowout of the Arizona Cardinals so they don’t fall into the same morass they did the last time they ran up the score on an overwhelmed opponent.
They walloped the Dallas Cowboys 42-17 in Week 2 last season.
They then won just five of their next 20 games, suffering through a franchise-worst eight-game skid last year and a four-game losing streak this season that had general manager John Elway reprising his “soft” label for a deficient defense and spurring fans to call for coach Vance Joseph’s job.
Then, on a short week, the Broncos (3-4) backed up Von Miller’s smack talk and outclassed the Cardinals (1-6) just as their superstar linebacker had promised, flipping the script maybe on what had been a soured season.
Miller’s message was actually directed at his own shaken team in hopes of restoring its swagger.
“It’s not even like me,” Miller said, “But I thought it was the best thing to do to get my teammates going.”
Miller first asked if his teammates had his back.
“We said, ‘Yeah, we got you. Go ahead and say it,'” said cornerback Bradley Roby. “When he put it out there, it put confidence in this team and I think it brought the best out of us.”
It sure brought the best out of Roby, a former first-round pick who had struggled in his first season as a starter opposite star Chris Harris Jr ., who had a pick-6 Thursday night along with linebacker Todd Davis.
Roby gave up three long touchdowns against the Jets two weeks ago, then failed to follow protocol for a sick day the next morning.
Against the Cardinals, Roby broke up four passes and recorded his first interception of the season.
“He really played well yesterday,” Joseph said. “For this defense to work, the corners have to play well. Chris has played well the entire season.”
Another former first-rounder who was also struggling, left tackle Garett Bolles, played his best game against Arizona and wasn’t whistled for any flags after drawing an NFL-high six holding calls going in.
Roby and Bolles hadn’t been benched like right guard Connor McGovern was last week because the Broncos lack depth at cornerback and tackle. So, Joseph was left to let Roby and Bolles work out their difficulties in the glare of the game.
“I thought Bolles played one of his best games of the year,” Joseph said, praising Bolles’ work blocking pass rusher Chandler Jones.
The Broncos have a long weekend now to relish their slump-busting victory before getting ready for their rematch with the Chiefs, who rallied for a 27-23 victory in Denver three weeks ago.
“Like Coach Joseph said, in this league, when you lose you feel like you’re never going to win again and when you win, you feel like you’re never going to lose again,” receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “It’s one of those situations we can build off.
“Obviously, you all heard about Von’s ‘We’re going to kick their’ you-know-the-word. We went out and did it and it feels good,” said Sanders, who both threw and caught a TD pass against Arizona . “Now we got 10 or 11 days until we go out to Kansas City. We’ll just sit back, watch some football over the weekend feeling confident in yourself. Hopefully, we can keep building off this.”
As for Miller, he doesn’t anticipate issuing a similar warning next week when the Broncos visit Arrowhead.
“Honestly, it wasn’t even for the Cardinals; it was for my teammates,” said Miller, who collected two strip sacks of rookie Josh Rosen. “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.”
That’s been restored in a big way.
Notes: Joseph said RB Royce Freeman (ankle) and WR/PR DaeSean Hamilton (knee) were day to day but S Darian Stewart (neck), who sustained his third stinger in three weeks, may be out a while. … Joseph said CB Adam Jones (thigh) should return this week and OLB Shane Ray (ankle) and RT Jared Veldheer (knee) are day to day.
By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer
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