On Tuesday, Von Miller ditched his typical happy-go-lucky demeanor and told the media that the Broncos were going to kick the Arizona Cardinals' ass. He was right.
The Broncos took down Arizona 45-10 at State Farm Stadium in Phoenix, Thursday night. The win improves Denver's record to 3-4, good for third place in the AFC West and 12th in the AFC, heading into Sunday's games.
Denver got off to a hot start. On the second play from scrimmage, Derek Wolfe batted a Josh Rosen pass at the line of scrimmage, tipping it into Todd Davis' hands. Davis returned it to the end zone, giving the Broncos a 7-0 lead.
Rosen caught a bad break, but he didn't inspire confidence with his play on Thursday. He threw another pick-six in the first quarter, this one a 55-yarder to Chris Harris Jr., who was nowhere near any Cardinals, to give Denver a 21-3 lead. Rosen finished the night with 194 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions on 21 of 39 passing.
Part of the reason for Rosen's tough outing was the pressure Joe Woods' defense dialed up. Rosen was sacked six times and hit 11 more. Bradley Chubb and Von Miller each had two sacks, and have now combined for 8.5 over the last two games.
The Broncos defense had their best overall outing of the season, bouncing back from consecutive poor performances to hold the Cardinals to 223 total yards. Most notably, Denver ended their streak of allowing two-straight 200-yard rushers by holding All-Pro running back David Johnson to 39 on 14 carries.
Rookie wide receiver Christian Kirk provided some challenges for Denver's defense but was largely held in check. Larry Fitzgerald also found space on occasion. The pair combined for 97 yards on seven catches.
Bradley Roby was key in holding the Cardinal passing attack to 154 net yards. After shoddy showings in recent weeks, Roby broke up four passes and picked off an overthrown ball in the end zone, halting a Cardinal drive near the redzone.
By halftime, the Broncos held a 35-3 lead and the Cardinals only averaged 3.5 plays per series.
Denver's start to the second half wasn't nearly as strong. Two minutes in, Keenum threw an ugly interception to Patrick Peterson who had outside leverage on Emmanuel Sanders on the sideline. Sanders wasn't close enough to make a play.
Outside of the interception—which was Denver's lone turnover on Thursday—Keenum put together a solid performance. He completed 14 of 21 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown.
Most of Denver's offensive production came via the ground, and for the first time this season, the Broncos called more running plays than pass plays.
Phil Lindsay scored the Broncos' first touchdown of the second half, toward the end of the third quarter. He broke through the line and dragged multiple tacklers on his way to a 28-yard touchdown, giving Denver a 42-10 lead. Lindsay was the Broncos' leading rusher with 90 yards on 14 carries. Royce Freeman carried the ball 13 times for 37 yards.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
After his rally cry earlier this week, Von Miller did his part in taking down the Cardinals with two strip-sacks. His stat line attests to his dominance over Arizona's offensive line — four quarterback hits, two sacks and two forced fumbles — but, as is often the case, much of his impact can't be quantified. Miller jumped the snap and found his way into the backfield at will.
PLAY OF THE GAME
On the Broncos' first possession of the game, they drove down the field with a six-play, 77-yard drive. With the ball at the Arizona 28, Keenum faked a handoff to Lindsay and pitched the ball to Sanders on a reverse. Sanders ran toward the sideline then threw a bomb for an uncovered Courtland Sutton in the end zone, to take a 14-0 lead six minutes into the game. Sanders also caught six passes for 102 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"Catch me on Wednesday." — Von Miller on whether he has a prediction for next week's matchup with the Chiefs
BY THE NUMBERS
5 — Number of games this season where Phil Lindsay has averaged over 5 yards per carry
35 — Points scored by the Broncos in the first half, their most in a half in eight years
69 — Rushing yards allowed by the Broncos, after allowing back-to-back 200-yard rushers
The Broncos have nine off-days before they take on the Chiefs in Kansas City next Sunday. The Chiefs (5-1) were handed their first loss of the year last week in New England, and host the Bengals this weekend on Sunday Night Football.