Newspaper article International New York Times

A Defense Worthy of a Nickname ; 3-4 Alignment Disrupted Carolina All Game, with Von Miller Leading Charge

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Defense Worthy of a Nickname ; 3-4 Alignment Disrupted Carolina All Game, with Von Miller Leading Charge

Article excerpt

Led by M.V.P. Von Miller, the Denver defense bottled up the N.F.L.'s best offense and carried Peyton Manning to a Super Bowl title.

The Denver defense was so dominant this season, part of the lead- up to a Super Bowl in which the Broncos were officially the underdog included in-depth discussions about what the defense's nickname should be if the team managed to win.

The Broncos showed some support for Orange Rush, a reference to Denver's Orange Crush defense of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and linebacker Von Miller thought it should be called Kool and the Gang. The bespectacled Miller, known for raising chickens, making unusual fashion choices and sacking quarterbacks, said Peyton Manning would be Kool with the defense as the Gang.

It will take some time for a nickname to build momentum. But after powering a team with almost no offense to Sunday's 24-10 Super Bowl win over the the Carolina Panthers, the highest-scoring team in the N.F.L., the Broncos' defense clearly deserve one. It would not seem a stretch to include Denver on a list of the most dominant defenses in N.F.L. history alongside the 1985 Chicago Bears, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens and the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Comparing numbers between eras can be dicey, but the Broncos had plenty of superlatives this season: the N.F.L.'s No.1 defense, No.1 passing defense and No.3 rushing defense. But as Wade Phillips, Denver's defensive coordinator, was quick to point out, the Broncos held opponents to a league-low 3.3 yards a carry, so in a way they have been the best in every category.

But Phillips, who has been coaching in the N.F.L. since 1976 without previously winning a Super Bowl, said the team's ability to grind out wins was what set it apart.

"We've had so many pressure games," Phillips said last week, "and when you think about it, we just broke the record of the '78 Oilers, who had the most wins of 7 points or less."

He added, "Of course, I was with the '78 Oilers, and that's when my hair started turning gray -- all those close games -- so it can't turn any grayer. …

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