Only Al Wilson had more tackles than Ian Gold did last year, and no other Broncos linebacker played more than the seven-season veteran did last year in a 101-tackle campaign.
But one series stood above all others in Gold’s sixth Broncos season and second since returning from a one-year stay with Tampa Bay — the Kansas City Chiefs’ final possession in Week 2.
Gold singlehandedly scuttled the march and forced overtime, notching four tackles — including one that knocked Larry Johnson back for a 3-yard-loss, pushing the Chiefs into a second-and-13 from which they couldn’t recover.
“I think the measure of a player is how they play when the game’s on the line,” safety John Lynch said, “and Ian certainly elevated his game against K.C.
“When that game was on the line you could see it in his eyes in that huddle. The last three or four series, he took over.”
Added Champ Bailey: “Sometimes I feel like I’m chasing him, because I’m chasing the ball and he’s right there in front of me.”
Gold’s quickness is back where it was before he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in 2003; he’s “as quick as a dang hiccup,” as Kenard Lang put it.
The Broncos will need that quickness to translate on the field once again next year.
FINAL ANALYSIS: Saw more snaps than any other Broncos linebacker at New England (Week 3), against Oakland (Week 6), against Seattle (Week 13) and at Arizona (Week 15) … Logged three double-digit tackle games — Week 2 versus Kansas City 13), Week 3 at New England (14) and Week 17 against San Francisco (11), when Al Wilson was out … Went through a season without a sack or an interception for the first time in his career.
NEXT: Linebacker Louis Green.