Grading The Denver Broncos Defensive Performances In The AFC Championship Game

The Broncos defense was outstanding at home against one of the best teams not only in the AFC, but in the NFL. The leading force of the defense was their pass rush, but all was excellent. How well did they do on an individual level? MHH Analyst Erick Trickel reports.

Derek Wolfe, DE

Snaps: 60. Stats: 1 sack, 4 QB hits, 5 hurries, 6 tackles, 1 batted pass.

Derek Wolfe was a force against the New England Patriots. He really excelled in his defense of the run, and kept up his excellence as a pass rusher.

Grade: 98.9

Sylvester Williams, NT

Snaps: 17. Stats: 2 hurries.

In a limited amount of reps, Williams was really good. His run defense was strong, and clogged the middle running lanes. With two hurries in very limited pass rush snaps, Williams was excellent and pushed the pocket, keeping the Patriots quarterback from stepping up.

Grade: 95.2

Malik Jackson, DE

Snaps: 67. Stats: 2 QB hits, 6 hurries, 2 tackles.

It was a strong game from Jackson, although there were a good number of negative notes from his performance. His pass rush was the better of the two aspects one sees from Jackson, with all the negative notes coming in his run defense.

Grade: 81.4

Von Miller, OLB

Snaps: 65. Stats: 2 sacks, 4 QB hits, 5 hurries, 5 tackles, targeted 3 times, allowing 2 catches for 23 yards, 1 interception.

To put it simply, Von Miller was excellent. His pass rush and run defense was some of the best from a player in a single game I've see. He also dropped into coverage and nabbed an interception. The only thing keeping his grade from being a perfect 100, is the other two plays he had in pass coverage.

Grade: 98.8

Danny Trevathan, ILB

Snaps: 45. Stats: 1 QB hit, 1 stop, 5 tackles, targeted 8 times, allowing 3 catches for 64 yards.

The inside linebacker played an excellent game against the run, but was lacking in pass coverage. A lot of the issues came in the form of him just not executing correctly in zone coverage.

Grade: 72.8

Brandon Marshall, ILB

Snaps: 59. Stats: 5 tackles, targeted 6 times, allowing 2 catches for 24 yards.

The other inside linebacker had a much better game than his counterpart, especially in coverage. His coverage was tight and against the run, he was able to sift through the garbage to make a play.

Grade: 86.9

DeMarcus Ware, OLB

Snaps: 58. Stats: 1 sack, 8 QB hits, 12 hurries, 2 tackles.

The game from Ware was excellent. His pass rush was perfect, even better than what was seen from Miller, despite 1 less sack. Ware was a complete force and gave the whole Patriots offensive line fits all game long. All eight of his hits came in the second half, with seven in the fourth quarter. Crunch time.

Grade: 99.7

Aqib Talib, CB

Snaps: 79. Stats: 5 tackles, targeted 5 times, allowing 2 catches for 16 yards.

The cornerback was facing a tough matchup with the Patriots receivers, and he stepped up to the plate. He really was excellent in everything he was tasked to do.

Grade: 97.6

T.J. Ward, SS

Snaps: 79. Stats: 5 tackles, targeted 7 times, allowing 3 catches for 35 yards.

Having Ward back was a major boost to the secondary, and the safety corps in general, which was necessary for this game. His coverage on Rob Gronkowski was excellent, and Ward was a force helping out against the run.

Grade: 87.8

Darian Stewart, FS

Snaps: 46. Stats: 3 tackles, targeted 1 time, allowing 1 catch for 10 yards, 1 interception.

The free safety played an excellent game, before he ended up leaving due to injury. His play in coverage was excellent and allowed the others in coverage some freedom. Stewart was also a force coming up against the run and laying the wood.

Grade: 94.1

Chris Harris, Jr., CB

Snaps: 82. Stats: 6 tackles, targeted 10 times, allowing 6 catches for 62 yards and 1 touchdown.

Strong against the run, Harris had some issues in coverage. He was dealing with a hurt shoulder, and it showed in his game against the Patriots.

Grade: 73.6

That wraps up the starters. Next up is the players who subbed into the game and saw ten or more snaps.

Antonio Smith, DE

Snaps: 27. Stats: 2 hurries, 1 tackle.

Even though he was just subbing in, Smith played a really good game. There were multiple mistakes in his run defense, which has always been a weakness for Smith. However, his pass rush was really strong.

Grade: 80.4

Shane Ray, OLB

Snaps: 25. Stats: 2 hurries.

The rookie linebacker played a really good game on the biggest stage he has played on so far. Of course, the stage gets bigger on February 7th. Every aspect of Ray’s game was really strong.

Grade: 92.8

Shaquil Barrett, OLB

Snaps: 18. Stats: 1 QB hit, 1 hurry, 1 tackle, targeted 2 times, allowing 1 catch for 12 yards.

Barrett was great when rushing the passer and defending the run. However, there were some issues when tasked in coverage, and not just in the two plays he was targeted.

Grade: 79.3

Bradley Roby, CB

Snaps: 71. Stats: targeted 6 times, allowing 1 catch for 6 yards.

The backup corner played a lot of reps due to the injury on Chris Harris’ shoulder. After some rough goings, he showed just how great he can be with a near perfect game against one of his toughest matchups that he faced this season.

Grade: 97.9

Kayvon Webster, CB

Snaps: 20. Stats: 2 tackles, targeted 2 times, allowing 1 catch for 6 yards.

Webster rarely saw the field on defense for the season, but had a moderate role against the Patriots due to injury. He played really well in all aspects and exceeded expectations that one should have for how little he has played this season.

Grade: 81.3

Josh Bush, S

Snaps: 70. Stats: 6 tackles. targeted 4 times, allowing 3 catches for 27 yards.

Seeing a lot of action as the third safety, who saw even more time due to the injury to Stewart. Bush has played really well all season, and it was no different in the championship game.

Grade: 84.7

Shiloh Keo, S

Snaps: 36. Stats: 3 tackles. targeted 3 times, allowing 2 catches for 27 yards

Keo has been seeing a large role on defense due to injury and it hasn’t always been pretty, and it was no different against the Patriots. He made multiple mistakes, including getting hit with a couple of flags.

Grade: 38.2

That sums up the players who saw ten or more snaps. Only two other players saw the field — defensive lineman Vance Walker saw seven reps and linebacker Todd Davis saw two. Only Walker hit the stat sheet with 1 hurry and 1 tackle.

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Erick Trickel in an Analyst for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @Alaskan_Bronco. And be sure to like MileHighHuddle on Facebook

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