The Broncos’ defense has been overshadowed most of the season, and for good reason. The Broncos have the best offense in the NFL. The Denver defense is okay. It’s not great. But not a complete weakness.
During the regular season, it gave up 24.9 points per game (22nd in the NFL), 356 yards of offense per game (19th), 254.4 yards passing per game (27th) and 101.6 rushing yards per game (tied for 7th with Seattle). The unit has been beset by injuries. Von Miller played in just nine games because of a suspension (six games) and then suffered a season ending injury against the Texans on Dec. 22. They also lost DT Kevin Vickerson and DBs Chris Harris and Rahim Moore.
The defense has played better in the last month. It helps the Broncos played the Texans and Raiders to end the season. But they did hold San Diego to 17 points (259 total yards) andNew England to 16 points (320 yards of total offense).
So what’s the difference been? Linebacker Danny Trevathan, the team’s leading tackler, had these thoughts:
“We’ve just been trying to play our kind of ball,” he said. “We wanted to stay within our scheme. A lot of injuries occurred—guys [were] stepping up and guys getting motivated to play. A lot of young guys stepped up and played a key role in this. And the leaders did a good job getting them ready to get ready for this. We start off pretty slow, but we kind of find our swag. Guys have that attitude. What happened in the regular season happened then. This is the postseason. This is where people make their names.”
Like every defense, Trevathan and the Broncos play with a chip on their shoulders.
“Yeah. I mean, I think it’s a chip,” he said. ”I think as long as we step up to the challenge and accept that stuff, a lot of people are going to talk—but our key is just to play our game, stay within our scheme and go out here and win games. Play 60 minutes. Like I said, a lot of people are talking but you’ve got to come out here and you’ve got to perform. That’s what it’s about. Our defense—a lot of people said [New England] could run the ball, all this and that. But you’ve got to be well-rounded. You’ve got to be a pro, handle that stuff as a challenge, take it upon yourself to go out there and perform and show them what’s up.”
Trevathan has an interesting year. He picked off Tony Romo to secure that wild win in Dallas, but he also had a pick six against the Ravens in the season opener end up not being a touchdown because he dropped the ball before he actually crossed the goal line.
“Life is a game,” he said. “It’s ups and downs, highs and lows. But, you know, I like my lows and I like my highs because without my lows, I never know what my highs are. It was a rough, roller-coaster year but we pulled it together. I’ve got a strong faith in God and I’ve got a strong faith within my team. We’re here now and we’ve just got to get this one more win. That is what I’m dedicating this whole week to.”
Trevathan got a scare when he injured his knee in training camp and then had the miscue in the first game, he’s seen some lows this year. It’s easy to see the interception gaffe still weighs on his mind.
“I got kind of too antsy,” he said of the play. “It kind of cost my team and I promised myself I would never put my team in a place like that. I’ll make up for it; I’ll do whatever I’ve got to do. I promised those who were laughing at me, I’m going to make them suffer. I’m going to be here and grind it out, I’m going to pick it off next time, do whatever I’ve got to do to go ahead and get that off my back.”
Asked about the Seahawks, one name was mentioned first.
“Marshawn Lynch,” he said. ” That was the first person that came to mind. I grew up watching him. I played running back a little bit so I grew up watching him a little bit. I see the way their offense—they’re athletic all around the board. If they get the running game going, they can really get going. They play within their scheme. They play with the people that they have. They use them to their strengths. We’ve got to be prepared for this. This is a powerhouse. Their defense is live, their offense is live. They can get going anytime. We’ve got to prepare for everything. It’s going to be a good Super Bowl.”
Here’s some more quotes from Trevathan.
On what he learned from the situation where he dropped the ball at the goal line against the Ravens
“It helped me grow. It taught me to be a little bit more humble. I saw those lights, and I’m there—I’m going to go ahead, get my little dance in, do whatever. That was just the young part of me. Picking off [in] the first prime[time] game, [Ravens QB Joe] Flacco, all this. But I settled down. I had a little baby girl that I love and she’s just helped me get myself together, helped me grow a lot and get prepared for the rest of this season.”
On whether he is the Broncos’ most dependable defender
“I’m just a defender, man. I’m out here—whenever I’m out there, I’m going to be out there. My defense is with me and I’m with my defense. There is nobody standing out on this defense. We love each other. Whoever gets the shine, gets the shine. But we’re just grinding. A lot of people were talking about us in the regular season. Now we’re here, they want to say this and that. But we’re just going to continue to play our game, let them talk.”