MIN-DEN Grades: Broncos' defense continues dominance
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Vikings-Broncos game:
– Teddy Bridgewater (+0.2) made a handful of great throws downfield, but he couldn’t overcome the constant pressure he was under. The second-year quarterback was accurate on 30-of-37 targeted passes, including 8-for-13 over 10 yards downfield. With seven sacks and no running game, though, Bridgewater constantly found himself behind the chains. One nice surprise was rookie wide out Stefon Diggs (-0.4). He was gaining constant separation on his routes, and if it weren’t for two fumbles and a drop, he would have had himself a career day.
– The offensive line truly cost them whatever chance they had of winning this one. The Vikings kept in 34 extra blockers over the course of 51 pass plays, and Bridgewater was still pressured on 19 of his 50 dropbacks. They also provided no running lanes to speak of outside of the 48 yard touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter. The main target was rookie right tackle T.J. Clemmings (-6.8) who was beaten like a drum, despite almost frequent help to his side.
– What a game for Linval Joseph (+6.5). The defensive tackle was the most active Viking in both the run and pass game. He made
three stops against the run and forced a good number of early throws out of Peyton Manning. Oddly, the same can’t be said for Sharrif Floyd (-4.2), who struggled mightily against outside zone runs much like he did week one in San Francisco.
DT Linval Joseph (+6.5)
OLB Anthony Barr (+3.3)
SS Harrison Smith (+2.2)
DE Everson Griffen (+1.1)
QB Teddy Bridgewater (+0.2)
– It wasn’t pretty once again for Peyton Manning (-0.5), but once again he did enough at the end for the victory. He had a number of under-thrown deep balls that could have been much bigger plays. The most obvious was the C.J. Anderson catch with 11:21 in the first quarter that would have been a touchdown, if it didn’t bring Anderson to a standstill. The other was Manning’s last throw of the game where Demaryius Thomas had a good step of separation on Xavier Rhodes, only for the throw to bring the corner back into play. They may not be routine throws by NFL standards, but Manning just hasn’t missed this many deep balls at any point in his recent career.
– The defensive line continues to get it done. There isn’t really any debating who the best defensive front in the NFL has been this year, as the Broncos have been getting pressure at a historic rate. Von Miller(+4.4), Malik Jackson (+1.9), and DeMarcus Ware (+2.2) combined for 14 pressures, and every starter in the front seven except for Vance Walker (-0.8) graded positively. That is usually a winning formula.
– Aqib Talib (-2.5) looked uncharacteristically out of sync Sunday. The corner yielded 70 yards on six-of-seven targets to four different receivers. It was capped off by him getting completely turned around by a Stefon Diggs out route late in the fourth quarter. Also struggling in the secondary was Bradley Roby (-0.7), whose 86 yards allowed were the most in the game.
ILB Brandon Marshall (+5.9)
OLB Von Miller (+4.4)
FS Darian Stewart (+2.3)
OLB DeMarcus Ware (+2.2)
WR Emmanuel Sanders (+1.9)