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DENVER — Entering the 2018 season, Von Miller needed two and a half sacks to crack the NFL’s top 50 all-time sack list.
Challenge accepted, he said.
The only caveat was he didn’t want to wait.
Two and a half sacks would have been enough to accomplish the feat, but that wasn’t enough for the future Hall-of-Famer.
Von had to do Von’s way — in a remarkable fashion with a side of boisterousness and a splash of goofiness.
In a three-play sequence late in the second quarter, Miller racked up not one, but two sacks.
Through 28 minutes of the football season, Von was on pace for the 30-sack season he’s talked about over the years.
But then he showed 30 sacks might not be an accurate goal when he racked up a career-high-tying third sack with 9:16 left in the game.
Thirty sacks in a season would be nice, on top of blowing the record books out of the water. But what about 48 sacks in a season?
After the first game of the season, that’s just what the star pass rusher is on pace for.
With three more on Sunday, Miller’s 86.5 career sacks to his name were good enough to not only move into the top 50 on the all-time list, but put him at No. 48, entrenched with all-time greats.
“It’s great. To be 29 [years old] and to be in the top 50, the league has been around for 100 years now. It’s great, man,” Miller said, before turning all of the credit to his past and present teammates, dousing them in praise. “It’s a true blessing.”
Since entering the league in 2011, only one player, Justin Houston, has more three-plus sack games than Von’s five.
His fifth three-sack game on Sunday was the best version of Von his head coach has seen since joining the team before last season. Vance Joseph stated the obvious after the game: “He’s a special player.”
“It’s hard not to notice when the crowd is going crazy, and Von is out there crawling, or doing whatever his sack dance is, that’s impressive to watch,” Case Keenum said after the game. “I’m glad I’m on the sidelines when he’s on the field. That’s for sure.”
All of Miller’s success was against the quarterback the Broncos deemed “great,” “elite” and “the best movement quarterback in the entire league” in the days leading up to the season opener.
Von emphasized this again after the team’s 27-24 win, once again calling Russell Wilson “elite.” But an elite quarterback didn’t slow No. 58 down one bit.
And the sacks might not even be the most impressive part of Miller’s afternoon rendezvous.
Along with having the second-most tackles on the team, Miller had a game-high four quarterback hits and a game-high three tackles for a loss.
Oh, he also had two forced fumbles, keeping one of them for a fumble recovery as well.
“I had oléd outside, and technically that’s not a good move (laughing),” Von said, explaining the play when he literally stole the ball right out of Chris Carson’s hands. “You want to be stout, shock and score. But I oléd outside, so I knew I needed to get back down to be able to make the tackle, and the running back, he was running, and I just saw the ball, and I just grabbed it.”
Multiple sacks along with multiple forced fumbles in a single game isn’t a new feat for Miller, either. Sunday was the third time the future Hall of Fame player accomplished this.
The last time Von put together a performance encompassing both of those aspects was Super Bowl 50 when he was named the game’s MVP. Sunday, he was named the game’s MVP once again as he was awarded the winning game ball from his coach.
In the name of fun, Von’s not only on pace for 48 sacks in 2018, he’s on pace for 32 forced fumbles — both of which would, obviously, be an NFL record.
“If we can get a lead with this crowd at home, it’s going to be hard to beat us, especially with our four pass rushers. Our defense is built on playing with a lead. If we do that, it’s going to be tough to beat us,” Joseph said following the win. “Hopefully we can get more leads and [Miller] can be special each week for us.”
Special doesn’t fully do justice to Miller’s game on Sunday in the Mile High City, but to be fair, not one word can accurately encapsulate Von’s performance against the Seahawks.
“You want to keep this team in the moment,” Miller said, explaining his mindset. “You don’t want to ever move too fast or too slow. You want to take advantage of the moment.”
There’s no doubt Von took full advantage of the moment on Sunday — Adding to his personal record book, the team that drafted him No. 2 overall’s record book and quickly moving up the NFL’s all-time list.