The Broncos’ season-road fork arrives Sunday, and Von Miller knows it.
In the mind of the outside linebacker, Denver must turn the boat around in their first divisional game against rival Raiders after back-to-back losses to the Ravens and the Steelers squandered the margin of error created by a 3-0 start.
“Maybe qualifying the Ravens game as a playoff game was too early for our team,” said Miller. “Maybe some of the things I said about the Pittsburgh Steelers and the type of game we needed to play, maybe it was too soon. But it’s certainly not too early for the Raiders. We have to go there and play well from start to finish – it’s a huge game for us.
“We have to win this game.
Miller added that the Broncos “need to dust themselves off after losing two games in a row” as they face Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon at Empower Field. The Raiders (3-2) are also looking to turn a corner, after a tumultuous week that included a decisive loss to the Bears followed by the resignation of head coach Jon Gruden due to past insensitive emails.
Miller said the Broncos know the Raiders haven’t played their best against Chicago, and he doesn’t underestimate quarterback Derek Carr’s ability to rally his team in the wake of the Gruden controversy, which has started at the end of last week.
“(Against Chicago) they were probably facing some of the distractions around (the Gruden situation),” Miller said. “If I were them I would look forward to this game to get back on track, and we also need this game to get back on track. He has all the ingredients for a great game.
With a Thursday night football showdown looming in Cleveland next week – and the season ending with four games against the Chargers / Chiefs in the past seven weeks – a loss on Sunday would make an already difficult path to the playoffs again. more difficult for the Broncos.
Miller said the key to keeping Carr and the Raiders in check begins in the running game – a facet the Broncos couldn’t control last week. Pittsburgh ran for 147 yards, a season-high Denver allowed, and that opened up the Steelers’ passing play. For the Raiders, Josh Jacobs has yet to run for 100 yards in a game this season, but has scored 201 yards and four TDs in Las Vegas’ two wins over Denver last season.
Despite the disappointment of the past two weeks, Miller said the Broncos’ overall confidence remains high. Even though last week’s game at Heinz Field ended in a 27-19 loss, Denver came back from a 24-6 deficit and was one point away from sending the game into overtime.
“These losses are not like the losses we’ve had in the past, when it’s like you get on the bus and look around like, ‘What just happened? How do we even have a chance to play against these guys? ‘ Miller said. “These losses (in 2021), it’s not like that.”
Miller has done his part to help put the Broncos back in the game after five straight seasons outside the playoffs.
The Broncos reclaimed the 32-year-old’s contract option during the offseason after losing in 2020 with ankle surgery, and he responded with 4.5 sacks and 15 tackles in five games. Miller was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month in September and has played 80% of Denver’s defensive snaps so far.
This warned the league that the veteran still has plenty in the tank as he considers his first double-digit sack year since 2018. Miller is the active NFL sack leader at 110.5 and ranks 23rd on the league. all time list.
“I’m really happy for him (winner of the month) after suffering a difficult injury last year,” Fangio said on September 30. “I think the guy is still a lot of years old, not just this year.”