The Seattle Seahawks defense dismantled the Denver Broncos — the league’s then-top offense — in Super Bowl XLIII. Two years later at Super Bowl 50, it was the Broncos hoisting the Lombardi Trophy following their victory over the Carolina Panthers. The Broncos defense was able to shut down Panthers quarterback Cam Newton — a task few teams were able to accomplish that season.
But, Denver’s path back to the Super Bowl was not necessarily by coincidence. On Friday in an interview with ESPN Seattle’s “Danny, Dave and Moore,” Broncos general manager John Elway shared the inspiration behind his team’s dominant defense.
“It was at that point in time I think that we watched the model that the Seahawks and John (Schneider) and coach (Pete) Carroll had put together of being great on defense,” Elway said. “I think what we were able to do is we added some key components that offseason via free agency and plus my first five years that I was here we worked on the defense.
“It all came together at the right time. Having seen the focus that on the defensive side, no matter what, if you had a great defense youâre going to be able to stay in football games.”
It’s important to note it wasn’t solely the loss that brought upon change. Elway mentioned the Broncos had been fixed on acquiring key defensive pieces through free agency and the draft since his arrival. After he was selected second overall in the 2011 draft, Von Miller‘s presence has paid dividends. In six seasons, he’s accumulated 73.5 sacks and was influential in the team’s Super Bowl win.
“My first five years that I was here we worked on the defense, and so our first five picks were defensive guys,” he said. “Those five guys really matured, came along, played great defense, and we were able to add Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware and T.J. Ward, some key pieces there. And then Wade Phillips came in with (then-head coach) Gary Kubiak as defensive coordinator, so really kinda everything aligned. I think the key thing is the young guys matured and really played well so that’s really what happened, and you’re right, we rode their backs last year to Super Bowl 50.”