By Michael Kelly
The Sports Xchange
DENVER – Von Miller was quiet early but when he got rolling he wrecked the Seattle offense. The Pro Bowl linebacker had three sacks, forced two fumbles and recovered one of them during the Denver Broncos’ 27-24 win over the Seahawks on Sunday.
His dominant day evoked memories of his MVP performance in Super Bowl 50. His first sack of quarterback Russell Wilson forced a fumble that the Seahawks recovered, so on the second one he simply ripped the ball out of the hands of running back Chris Carson.
“He was running and I just saw the ball and I just grabbed it,” Miller said. “I’ve made similar plays before.”
Miller sparked a defense that had six sacks, forced three turnovers and held Seattle to 64 yards rushing. When he wasn’t getting into the backfield he was opening up lanes for teammates like Chris Harris Jr., who got a sack on a corner blitz.
“He’s really a freak and he does things that help other players make plays, too,” Denver linebacker Todd Davis said. “The way he really rushed off the edge and maintained that tackle and Chris was able to run off the end and make the play. People see Chris make the play but you don’t see what Von does again to make another sack happen.”
Miller gets his own sacks, too, and now has 86.5 for his career. He passed Willie McGinist for 50th on the NFL’s all-time sack list with his last one of the game.
“To be 29 (years old) and to be in the top 50 – the league has been around for 100 years now,” he said. “It’s a true blessing.”
Miller showed he’s human when he took some oxygen on the sidelines during the game, but he shrugged it off as a part of his game every week.
“When I get to the sideline I’m going to get the oxygen no matter what,” he said. “It’s just tradition.”
So is terrorizing the quarterback every week.
Rough Start, Strong Finish for Thomas
Demaryius Thomas said he was nervous before Sunday’s game, and apparently he couldn’t shake the nerves at the start. The veteran wide receiver had three drops in the first quarter before settling down to finish with six catches for 63 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
“It was like my first game again. I was so excited and happy to be back on the field,” he said. “Those first three plays were kind of tough, kind of tough. Couple quick drops. We got kind of on track and some things went our way but the main thing was to get the W.”
Thomas atone for his early miscues with a highlight-reel catch early in the fourth quarter. He toed the sideline in the end zone to nab quarterback Case Keenum’s pass for a 4-yard touchdown, a play that was upheld upon review.
“I knew I was in, the referee just had to confirm it,” he said. “I got nice feet on the sideline, he put the ball in the right spot, I made a play on it and that was that. I was happy about it; I needed that one.”
Rookie Running Backs shine
Denver signed Keenum in the offseason to lead the offense but they were fine with stocking the backfield with rookies. After one game the strategy seems sound – and pretty even.
Royce Freeman and Philip Lindsay made their NFL debuts and had an eerily similar day on the ground. Both players had 15 rushing attempts for 71 yards and took pressure off Keenum with a solid running attack.
Lindsay got the nod for the best debut with a 29-yard touchdown catch and run for Denver’s first score.
“It was amazing,” Freeman said of his fellow rookie. “The offense definitely needed to get off on a good foot. He was going out there and making plays.”
Denver didn’t suffer any injuries in the opener.
“Very lucky, again, to come out of the game with no injuries,” Joseph said.