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GLENDALE, AZ — “It worked,” Von Miller said grinning ear-to-ear, standing on the post-game podium following the Denver Broncos 45-10 beatdown over the Arizona Cardinals.
The face of the Broncos’ franchise is, of course, referring to the news-catching headlines he made on Tuesday with his remarks about Thursday night’s game.
“We’re going to kick their ass,” said Miller, who is more known for his jokes, smiles and dance moves than his bold, direct guarantees.
“Make sure you put that up there, we’re going to kick their ass. They’re going to get our best this week. Last week was tough, the week before that, whatever. This week, Thursday night, primetime, they’re going to get the Broncos’ best.”
And Von certainly wasn’t lying as Denver took the will out of the Cardinals from the get-go.
But more importantly than destroying a 1-6 team, and breaking their own four-game slide in the process, the Broncos established something they’ve been looking for since the Peyton Manning era.
“We’ve just got to go out there and play Broncos football,” Miller said during his eye-opening press conference on Tuesday. “If we play Broncos football, they won’t be able to play with us.”
Broncos football? Up until Thursday night, “Broncos Football” of recent was known for great practices and the near inability to win on the road.
Thursday, however, they began to scratch the surface of a new identity.
That identity being, well, new.
On the second play of the game, Todd Davis corralled in a pass tipped by Derek Wolfe from Josh Rosen and took it to the house.
Not only was it Davis’ first-career interception, but it was also Denver’s first pick-six of the season.
Three possessions later, Chris Harris Jr. topped Davis’ 20-yard pick-six by taking an interception of his own 53-yards to the house.
Not only was it Harris Jr.’s first house call since Denver’s 2015 Super Bowl season, but it was also the first time Denver’s had multiple interceptions returned for a touchdown in the same game since 1989.
The two celebrated the momentous occasion with a high-five as Harris Jr. strolled across the goal line to extend their early lead to 18 points.
But before Harris Jr.’s pick-six, the offensive got in on the “first” action when Emmanuel Sanders — yes, the wide receiver — threw a 28-yard darting spiral to Courtland Sutton for six.
After adding a 64-yard receiving touchdown in the second quarter, not only did Sanders become the first Bronco since 1989 to have a passing, receiving and rushing touchdown in the same season, he became the first receiver to accomplish that feat.
If that wasn’t enough, No. 10 became the first player in Broncos’ history to throw and catch a touchdown in a game since the great John Elway did it in 1986.
“I had to go and apologize to John,” Sanders joked after the game.
Sanders 64-yard touchdown also marked the first time Case Keenum had a 50-plus-yard play donning Orange & Blue.
The 180-pound receiver also lined up at fullback for a play, likely marking the first time he’s done that in his career.
Oh, don’t forget about Zach Kerr recording his first full sack as a Bronco.
At the end of one, the scoreboard read: Denver 21, Arizona 3.
It was only the second time Denver had dropped 21 points on the road in the first quarter ever and the first since 1973. It was the first time they had accomplished that feat in any game since 2010.
This, friends, was all in the first half of play, too.
At halftime, Denver wasn’t done rewriting the record book with first’s.
Their 35 points at the midway point marked the most points ever scored at State Farm Stadium in a single half of football.
Don’t forget, State Farm Stadium — although it’s had different names in the past — has hosted Cardinals games since 2006, college championships and Super Bowls.
The Broncos’ 32-point halftime lead was the largest they’ve ever had on the road.
As the blowout continued and grew to 35 points, Denver amassed more historical feats, including having the fourth-largest margin of victory in team history.
It was the first time the team had five takeaways since Super Bowl 50.
Thursday also marked the first time this season in which Denver has won after scoring first in the game.
In their other two victories, their opponents scored first. In their four losses, the Broncos scored first.
For the past year and a half, the narrative surrounding the team has been about how they need the lead in order to play their winning brand of “Broncos Football.”
Countless times on Thursday, the Broncos destroyed preconceived notions about what “Broncos Football” is or isn’t and in the process proved they could be creating a new, fresh identity.
The new identity goes beyond just the three-and-a-half hour game, too.
Through the first seven weeks of the NFL season, Denver has had major contributions from new fresh faces, aka their rookie class — from No. 5 overall pick Bradley Chubb to undrafted free agent Phillip Lindsay.
The jubilant rookie class is the first to have such a profound impact on a Broncos team during their first season in years, if not decades.
What’s also a first is Von Miller’s public fire, anger and attitude flat-out guaranteeing how games are going to go down.
So far, Von’s a perfect 1-for-1 in his new, fresh look.
Head coach Vance Joseph is well aware of the new brand of “Broncos Football” that he’s hoping takes his team by storm.
“Without results, without wins, it’s hard to change the culture and convince the players it’s working. You have to change the culture and convince your guys it’s working,” Joseph said, speaking to a potential culture change rapidly hitting his team. “You have to win to get guys convinced it’s working.”
Whatever was in the water at Broncos’ headquarters this week worked.
Thursday was an indication that “Broncos Football” is getting a new definition.