Top 10 Tuesday is upon us again, and this week Broncos TV is counting down the top defensive plays of the season.
Next week’s video will be a little different — the best pregame sound from the season, not exactly in a top 10 countdown format.
So without further ado, let’s get to the top 10, as we saw it.
10: Champ Bailey’s revenge pick
With the Broncos taking on the Bengals, wide receiver A.J. Green found a little success against Bailey, including a touchdown. But with Cincinnati driving to possibly take the lead, Bailey made up for the touchdown and grabbed an Andy Dalton pass in front of Green for an interception. The turnover allowed Denver to take a 31-20 lead late in the fourth quarter.
9: Mike Adams’ Carolina safety
The defensive performance in Carolina was arguably the Broncos’ best all season. When Adams sacked Cam Newton in the end zone for a safety, it marked the team’s seventh sack and was the second defensive score of the game.
8: Wesley Woodyard’s interception of Drew Brees
With the game knotted up, the Saints were driving into Broncos territory. But on fourth-and-2, when Brees tried to loft a pass to Jimmy Graham in the middle of the field, Woodyard had other ideas. The linebacker leaped and snared the ball at its highest point for an interception. The turnover allowed Denver to take a 14-7 lead on its next drive on the way to 27 unanswered points.
7: Von Miller’s pressure, Tony Carter’s pick six
Early in the third quarter at Carolina, the Panthers threatened to jump right back into the game when Peyton Manning was strip-sacked and Carolina recovered the fumble. But on the very next play, Miller and Carter made sure the turnover was irrelevant. Miller nearly sacked Newton, forcing an errant throw that was intercepted by Carter and returned 40 yards for a touchdown — and a 24-7 lead.
6: Elvis Dumervil’s sack for a safety
Against the eventual AFC South champions, Dumervil got the scoring started. After a Britton Colquitt punt was run out of bounds at the 6-yard line by then-Texans returner Trindon Holliday, Matt Schaub was backed up in the shadow of his own end zone. Dumervil took advantage right away, sacking Schaub on the Texans’ first offensive play for a safety.
5: Mitch Unrein’s quarterback hit, Miller’s pick six
After back-to-back touchdown passes from Manning to Demaryius Thomas gave Denver a 21-10 lead against Tampa Bay, Unrein and Miller added a little cushion of their own. On the second play of the Bucs’ ensuing drive, Unrein put heavy pressure on Josh Freeman. Freeman’s pass was then intercepted by Miller and returned 26 yards for the first defensive touchdown of his career.
4: Chris Harris’ comeback-clinching pick six
Denver’s miraculous comeback in San Diego was still in danger of falling apart late in the fourth quarter, with the Chargers driving near midfield down four points. But Harris erased all doubt when he stepped in front of a Philip Rivers pass intended for Eddie Royal, racing 46 yards for a game-sealing pick-six.
3: Tracy Porter’s season-opening pick six
After trailing 19-14 in the fourth quarter against the Steelers, the Broncos battled back to take a 25-19 lead with three minutes remaining in the season opener. But Porter didn’t let Ben Roethlisberger get a comeback drive started. On the third play of Pittsburgh’s ensuing drive, Porter jumped a pass intended for Emmanuel Sanders and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown, essentially sealing the win. The defense sacked Roethlisberger three times on Pittsburgh’s final drive to put the game on ice.
2: Harris’ 98-yard interception return
Just before halftime in Baltimore, the Broncos led just 10-0 and the Ravens appeared on the verge of jumping right back into the game. But with a first-and-goal at the 4-yard line, Joe Flacco tried to find Anquan Boldin in the end zone. Instead, Harris jumped in front of the pass at the 2-yard line and took it 98 yards for the longest interception return for a score in Denver history. The 17-0 halftime deficit was too much for the eventual Super Bowl champions to overcome.
1: Dumervil’s forced fumble, Carter’s comeback-fueling touchdown
In perhaps the biggest play of the year on offense, defense or special teams, Dumervil and Carter combined for a momentum-swinging play in the defining game of the Broncos’ season. Down 24-7, Dumervil sacked Rivers, who was engineering a drive into Denver territory. Rivers fumbled, and the ball seemed like it was on the ground for an eternity. Then Carter swooped in to scoop up the ball and sprinted 65 yards down the sideline into the end zone for a touchdown. That made it 24-14, and the Chargers never recovered as the Broncos blanked their rival 35-0 in the second half to match the largest comeback in franchise history.
Any big plays missing? Disagree with the order?
Let us know what you think of today’s list in the comments.