ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos’ defense accomplished something that hasn’t been done in Denver for over three decades.
Over the past two weeks, Vance Joseph’s unit forced four turnovers in each game. What’s even more impressive, is those two games were against two of the best offenses and quarterbacks in the NFL in the Kansas City Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes and the Buffalo Bills with Josh Allen.
Not even the Super Bowl 50 defense accomplished that.
To throw a cherry on top, Denver’s special teams also forced a turnover against the Chiefs, upping the Broncos to nine takeaways in the past two games.
“It was the difference last night,” Sean Payton told the media Tuesday morning, 12 hours after the Broncos beat the Bills 24-22 to pull to within one game of .500.
“We knew it was going to be really significant here,” Payton continued. “Josh [Allen] and Sean [McDermott] together are 33-1 when they win the turnover battle. That’s pretty significant, 33-1. But fortunately for us, we won that last night, and that had a lot to do—if not everything to do—with us winning the game.”
That’s going to be the key for the Broncos to continue their win streak and make a push for the playoffs, according to the head coach.
“The blueprint in our league—so it’s not our blueprint, but how we coach it, and it is significant. It’s everything,” Payton said on Tuesday, talking about winning the turnover battle. “Our defensive takeaways—and honestly, it’ll be the key for us as we move forward these next few weeks. It’s just hard—the margins in our league are so close. Let’s say there are 12 possessions per team, on average. There might be a little more or less. I get a takeaway—that means I have 13 and you have 11. I get one more—I have 14, you have 10. You just start doing that math.”
Starting in Denver’s first win of the season, in Week 4 against the Chicago Bears, the Broncos have at least one takeaway in every game.
While winning the turnover battle is important for every NFL team, it’s, so far, been the Broncos’ winning formula.
In the games Denver has won the turnover battle, they are 4-1, with their only loss coming in Week 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
In the games they have lost the turnover battle, Denver is 0-4.
In the Broncos’ four wins, they only have two turnovers compared to a whopping 12 takeaways, giving them a plus-10 turnover margin.
In their five losses, however, they have 11 turnovers and only four takeaways, for a minus-7 turnover margin.
No wonder Payton called winning the turnover battle “everything” for the Broncos.
Payton hopes this can be the identity of the team moving forward.
“I mean, let’s hope we continue to take the ball away,” the head coach stated. “The line of scrimmage play and the turnover battle is something we’re emphasizing.”
Midway through the season, the Broncos’ 16 takeaways are the seventh-most in the NFL. Their nine takeaways in the past two weeks is more than four teams in the NFL have all season and is tied with what the Bears and Miami Dolphins have on the entire year.
Payton and Joseph have found their winning formula. It will mean “everything” for the team as they look to make a playoff push.