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DENVER — This is the Vic Fangio defense the Broncos expected.
Coverages that confound a quarterback. Stout play from the defensive line and inside linebackers against the run. Defensive backs attacking off the edge to further discombobulate the opposing offense. A powerful interior pass rush to take advantage of the chips and double-teams thrown at Von Miller.
All that allowed the Broncos to pounce on a weak Titans offense.
Tennessee’s attack entered the game gasping after mustering just seven points in a loss to Buffalo last week. Then the Broncos gradually choked the life out of the Titans in a 16-0 whitewashing at Empower Field at Mile High.
A shutout against any team in the modern, offensive-centric NFL is always worthy of celebration. It was only the second shutout for the Broncos since 2006, and their first since Week 15 of the 2017 season against the New York Jets.
After dominating last week, the Broncos kept Mike Purcell at nose tackle, Shelby Harris at defensive end and Alexander Johnson at inside linebacker. The changes worked brilliantly once again, to the tune of seven sacks of besieged Titans quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill and three takeaways.
Johnson had 1.5 of the sacks while finishing with a team-leading nine total tackles. Purcell had five total tackles, two of which went for losses. Harris finished with a sack.
Denver’s defense entered Los Angeles last week with questions galore in the wake of a dominant Jaguars performance in the second half of the 26-24 Week for loss to the Jacksonville.
It left Sunday’s game looking like one of the best defenses in the league, even with injuries shredding their cornerback corps.
… Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker was on hand to present the Hall of Fame ring to cornerback Champ Bailey and late owner Pat Bowlen, both of whom were inducted into the Hall in August. Bowlen’s ring and Hall of Fame jacket will be displayed at Broncos headquarters.
… Cornerback Duke Dawson was inactive due to a foot injury. The Broncos went with slot-work-by-committee in his place, using Chris Harris Jr. and Will Parks in the slot.
… With Purcell active, Adam Gotsis was inactive for a second consecutive game. Gotsis played in 52 consecutive games to open his career before being scratched last week.
… Left tackle Garett Bolles’ streak of games without a holding penalty ended at three, as he was flagged for holding on a 1-yard run by Phillip Lindsay with 1:07 left before halftime.
… Joe Flacco’s third-quarter interception on a deep attempt to Noah Fant that bounced off the rookie tight end’s back extended the quarterback’s streak of games with at least one interception to five, his longest since a 10-game stretch of the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
… There were 72,024 fans on hand for the game, with 3,791 no-shows.