DENVER -- Not to jump the gun ...
The Denver Broncos think they have an answer to the NFL's most feared pass-rushing tandem of Pro Bowl selections Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis in Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller.
"Fastest dudes I done seen off the ball," Broncos middle linebacker Joe Mays said after watching them sandwich Tarvaris Jackson all night in Denver's 23-20 victory against the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night. "They can rival the Colts' defensive ends right now as fast as they can get off the ball."
The Broncos (2-1) sacked Jackson five times, with Miller getting two and Dumervil 1½, and knocked him around plenty of other times just as he got off the pass.
"It's been a while since I've seen a pass rush like that, period," Champ Bailey said. "And if we can keep that up all year, we're going to have a good year."
Dumervil missed all of last season after tearing a chest muscle in training camp shortly after parlaying his 17-sack season into a big contract. The Broncos nose-dived without him, and they chose Miller out of Texas A&M with the second overall draft pick in April.
"Those guys did a great job," Jackson said. "They came off the ball. They were ready. They're some talented guys on the edge. That's what they do, they're very good at rushing the passer."
And the Seahawks played right into their hands without much of a ground game.
Miller has three sacks in the preseason and Dumervil is picking up where he left off in 2009.
"They were able to create some havoc," Mays said. "So, today was a great day."
Except for the injuries.
They lost Brodrick Bunkley to a right knee injury on a chop block by Robert Gallery, and linebacker D.J. Williams to a sprained right elbow.
Williams, who has led the Broncos in tackles in three of the past four seasons, had a sling on in the locker room and his arm was heavily taped up past the biceps. He said he'll be all right but didn't elaborate as far as a timetable for his return.
Bunkley is the third run-suffer sidelined in the last two weeks following injuries to starters Ty Warren and Marcus Thomas.
Bunkley's teammate Kevin Vickerson was hot in the locker room afterward, saying the chop block "was just something that wasn't called for, especially in the preseason."
Gallery insisted it was a clean play and said he'd do it the same way the next time, too.
"Look in the rule book. It was a completely legal block to me. The ref even said it," Gallery said. "That's football. I'd do it again. (I) don't like that he got hurt, but that was a completely legal block and I'd do it 100 times again. Feel bad he got hurt, but that's football."
Bunkley, who said he wasn't seriously injured, declined to call out Gallery for a cheap shot.
"It's the game, man," Bunkley said. "We're in the trenches, and things like that are going to happen. I'm not going to say anything is dirty. That's just the way the game is played."
Kyle Orton led Denver back from a shaky start with two TD drives and Tim Tebow put the Broncos in position to win it after Jeff Reed tied it at 20 with a 53-yard field goal with 1:16 left in regulation. Tebow had a 19-yard scramble in leading the Broncos downfield for Steven Haushka's 51-yarder as time expired.
The highlight of the night for Seattle (1-2) was Doug Baldwin's 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on a re-kick following an offside call on Denver that moved the ball back to the 30. All 16 of the previous kickoffs at Sports Authority Field this preseason were touchbacks.
With Russell Okung out with an ankle injury, the Seahawks' starting left tackle was Tyler Polumbus, a former Broncos lineman who was engaged with Dumervil in a 1-on-1 drill last summer when Dumervil's right pectoral muscle snapped during training camp, ending his season.
Contending with Miller on the other side were two rookies: right tackle James Carpenter and right guard John Moffitt.
It wasn't much of a contest.
Seattle's starters finally scored on their 12th drive of the preseason, on Reed's 52-yard field goal. Their first TD of the preseason came on their final possession, when Jackson found tight end Dominique Byrd behind Denver's second-string defense for a 1-yard TD connection in the fourth quarter.
"We got some points on the board, so that was a good thing to show the guys we can do it," Jackson said. After the first half ended with Denver leading 10-3 and Matt Prater's 69-yard field goal coming up short, Orton guided an eight-play, 93-yard drive on the Broncos' first possession of the second half, ending it with a 6-yard TD toss to Eric Decker.
"We wanted to come out and play really well this week, really our last tuneup," Orton said. "And after the way we started, to not press, stay together, battle and grind one out is a great way to go into the season."
Prater said he got excited about his 69-yard attempt and didn't strike the ball correctly. "I tried to overkick it and I didn't kick it as good" as his 57-yarder. Prater said he kicked a 70-yarder in pregame. ... Seattle is 1-8 against Denver in the preseason. ... Denver's first-team defense limited Seattle to 53 yards on 30 plays. ... Orton is 28 of 42 (66.7 percent) in the preseason.
|Denver (2-1-0) «||0||10||7||6||23|
|FG||Jeff Reed, 52 Yd, 3:05. Drive: 7 plays, 20 yards in 2:57.|
|TD||Willis McGahee, 2 Yd run (Matt Prater kick is good), 12:27. Drive: 12 plays, 80 yards in 5:38.|
|FG||Matt Prater, 57 Yd, 6:22. Drive: 4 plays, 6 yards in 0:53.|
|TD||Eric Decker, 6 Yd pass from Kyle Orton (Matt Prater kick is good), 8:53. Drive: 8 plays, 85 yards in 3:49.|
|TD||Dominique Byrd, 1 Yd pass from Tarvaris Jackson (Jeff Reed kick is good), 14:16. Drive: 9 plays, 83 yards in 3:23.|
|FG||Matt Prater, 40 Yd, 9:15. Drive: 10 plays, 58 yards in 5:01.|
|TD||Doug Baldwin, 105 Yd kick return (Jeff Reed kick is good), 8:59.|
|FG||Jeff Reed, 53 Yd, 1:16. Drive: 8 plays, 44 yards in 2:24.|
|FG||Steven Hauschka, 51 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 5 plays, 44 yards in 1:16.|
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