Albuquerque Journal


Broncos’ Von Miller matches up against great Cowboys line


DENVER — Von Miller can’t wait to bust out some of his new sack dances like the “Sexy T-Rex” he introduced after dumping Aaron Rodgers in the preseason.

Trouble is, Miller has now gone without a sack for a career-long five consecutiv­e regular-season games.

So, like Miller, you’ll just have to imagine his new moves.

The Chargers chose to doubleand triple-team Miller in their 24-21 loss to the Broncos in the opener, keeping him from getting to Philip Rivers but severely limiting their offensive options. They didn’t top 100 yards passing until the fourth quarter.

Miller’s task gets no easier against the Cowboys (1-0) and terrific tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, part of what Miller calls “an all-star offensive line” protecting Dak Prescott, who led Dallas to a 19-3 win over the Giants in their opener.

“They’re really the tone-setters on our football team,” said Dallas tight end Jason Witten. “They’re the hardest-working group on the team … They just fight. They’re always last shoving. They’re playing to the whistle.”

Miller’s an All-Pro himself, and despite his sackless streak he still ranks fourth in NFL history with .83 sacks per game. He’s also become one of the best outside linebacker­s playing the run.

So he’s the fulcrum of any defensive coordinato­r’s


“He’s one of the best players in the league,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “He is just fantastic in every aspect of the game. He’s quick, he’s fast, he’s explosive. He’s got great instincts for rushing the passer. He’s so disruptive and he makes play after play after play each week. And he’s getting a lot of attention from opposing offenses, so we have a real respect for him.”

Broncos coach Vance Joseph said Miller is putting his imprint on games even without getting his hands on the quarterbac­k. He noted the Chargers converted just 25 percent on third downs: “They were 3 of 12 … so who cares? It’s team football. So, if they’re going to take Von away, we’ve got ways to win third downs and win second downs. That’s what’s important, not sacks.”

Miller isn’t worried about his dearth of sacks, figuring they’ll come in bunches, like his mentor, Elvis Dumervil, used to say. Plus, he knows he can wreck an offensive game plan in other ways. So, no, he isn’t pressing.

“I’ve been playing great,” Miller said. “We’ve been playing great as a defense. … I’m on it. The sacks are going to come.”

Other subplots as the Cowboys

seek their first win over Denver since 1995:

ELLIOTT’S EXPLOITS: Ezekiel Elliott has 100 or more scrimmage yards in 12 of 16 career games, including 140 against the Giants in the opener. The Broncos allowed Melvin Gordon to gain just 33 yards on 17 tries after he scampered for 21 yards on his first carry.

RECORD BREAKER: Witten is set to break Ed “Too Tall” Jones’ club record by playing in his 225th game today. SUSPECT SECONDARY?

Emmanuel Sanders had just three catches for 26 yards in Week 1, but the Cowboys’ secondary could be the setup for a big bounce-back. The Cowboys lost cornerback­s Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in free agency, along with safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox.

CB Orlando Scandrick started alongside newcomer Nolan Carroll against the Giants. Scandrick got hurt, leading to significan­t snaps for Chidobe Awuzie, a rookie from Colorado.

GO-TO GUYS: Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant has an NFLhigh 61 career TDs since entering the league in 2010. Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas has 52 career TDs.

Each has 11 TD catches since signing similar five-year, $70 million deals two summers ago.

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 ??  ?? Von Miller La’el Collins Tyron Smith
Von Miller La’el Collins Tyron Smith

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