Denver’s defense caps historic day, season
DENVER (AP) — The Denver Broncos capped their historic run on defense Sunday by becoming the first team to win a game with a minus-4 turnover ratio since 2012.
The Broncos bounced back from five turnovers and an 80-yard touchdown toss from Philip Rivers to Tyrell Williams in the fourth quarter to beat San Diego 27-20.
That wrapped up a fifth consecutive AFC West crown and the top seed in the conference for the third time in four seasons.
“It’s great,” Von Miller said. “It’s a huge opportunity. It is the shortest path (to the Super Bowl). I’m pretty proud pf my guys and pretty confident in them, as well.”
Denver’s defense posted the franchise’s first No. 1 overall ranking, allowing just 283.1 yards a game. The Broncos were the NFL’s best against the pass — 199.6 yards — and third-best against the run at 83.6 yards.
They also led the league with 52 sacks and allowed 18.5 points per game.
Seattle allowed the fewest points in the league — 277 — but the Broncos, who yielded 296, would have bested that, too, were it not for a trio of pick-6s by Peyton Manning early in the season.
The Broncos, however, lost Pro Bowl pass rusher DeMarcus Ware to a knee injury not long after he posted his first sack since returning from a bad back last month, and safety Darian Stewart aggravated a pulled hamstring.
The 80-yard TD also stung.
“It was all our fault, just leave it like that,” said Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib, who allowed Williams to dart past him. “It was a busted coverage. We don’t give up 80-yard (touchdowns) at all. We won’t no more.”
Shiloh Keo, the most unheralded of Denver’s defenders, helped seal it. He atoned allowing Oakland’s game-winning TD in a 15-12 stunner in Denver just five days after joining the banged-up Broncos secondary last month.
He also gave up Antonio Gates’ 13-yard TD Sunday, but his interception with 4:50 remaining set up Ronnie Hillman’s 23-yard TD run one play later that broke a 20-20 tie.
It was Denver’s only takeaway following five by the Broncos.
Denver’s defense allowed just three points off the four first-half turnovers and Gates’ TD in the second half following a fumble by C.J. Anderson on the second play of the third quarter.
Keo’s interception was Denver’s only takeaway.
Before Sunday, teams were 2-92 when they were minus-4 or worse in turnover ratio over the last five years.
The last team to win despite a minus-4 turnover ratio was Atlanta over Arizona on Nov. 18, 2012.
Keo suggested the bye will only help the league’s best defense get even better.
“It’s going to do miracles for our defense,” Keo said. “We have a lot of veteran guys, a lot of starters, who are playing on injuries, so this extra week will give them the opportunity to get their bodies back to 100 percent and give us the best shot at going all the way.”
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton