Broncos walk the walk in rout of Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Denver Broncos came, they saw and they kicked exactly what Von Miller said they would kick.

So for at least for one week, the thermostat gets turned down a bit on the Broncos after a 45-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night in State Farm Stadium. The win snaps a four-game losing streak for the Broncos and is just the second road win in Vance Joseph's tenure as coach.

"Obviously Von had some comments early in the week about guaranteeing the win," Joseph said. "But easy to say, hard to do. I was proud how he played the game [Thursday night]. You can speak those words, but you've got to back them up, and he backed them up and his teammates also backed them up."

It also ended a week filled with drive-time conversation about the temperature of Joseph's hot seat and the Broncos' souring fortunes -- an environment Joseph had even described as "the city is on fire." Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway even weighed in early in the week, saying everyone involved had to "play for their lives," and he described the team's run defense as "soft."

Then Miller added the exclamation point to it all Tuesday, when in an enough-is-enough message, he offered the Broncos were going to "kick their ass," in talking about the Cardinals.

Miller added the Cardinals were "going to get our best this week. Last week was a tough week, week before that, whatever, this week Thursday night, prime time, they're going to get the Broncos' best."

"It's a brotherhood in the locker room, and I knew my brothers had my back," Miller said after recording two sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. " ... Honestly, it wasn't even for the Cardinals, it was for my teammates."

The Cardinals might not have gotten the best the Broncos could offer, but it was far better than what the Broncos have served this season. The Broncos were both creative, including a 28-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to Courtland Sutton in the first quarter, and bruising on the night.

The defense was at its disruptive best with six sacks, three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns, the first coming on the second play of the game.

"We got back to what we do best," Joseph said.

The Cardinals' opening possession on offense gave the Broncos a glimpse of a team with bigger problems than they have.

Arizona running back David Johnson ran for no gain on first down. Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, with plenty of growing pains already in tow, then had to call a timeout because the Cardinals couldn't get lined up, at least in some part due to the noise from a crowd that might have been as much as half in Broncos' orange.

Out of the timeout Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe tipped a Rosen pass that linebacker Todd Davis then intercepted and returned for a score. Two possessions later cornerback Chris Harris Jr. returned another interception 53 yards for another touchdown and the Broncos were well on their way to a solid performance.

"When your leader comes up and say you're going to whip somebody's butt, you better be ready to play," Davis said. " ... We definitely had to be ready. It felt good, felt like the 2018 Broncos defense can be, felt like who we really are."

It doesn't repair everything. They still had moments on offense when they struggled to protect quarterback Case Keenum.

Keenum threw another interception -- his ninth of the season -- and if the Cardinals aren't the worst team in the league, they are in the proverbial conversation. So, the Broncos are free to feel better about the whole thing, but they've still got some work to do before they can say they're cured.

But the two most important things that happened this week could impact this team for quite some time if they can simply make the most of them from here on out. The first is, after all of these seasons, Miller stood out front for this team.

Peyton Manning has been gone for over two seasons now, DeMarcus Ware retired as a player after the 2016 season, and the Broncos have searched for their voice ever since. And in those weeks and months of football we've seen happy Von, irreverent Von, talented Von, even disappointed Von during 2017's 5-11 slog.

But this was angry Von, fed-up Von, this-is-ridiculous Von, and the team showed it agreed.

"It wasn't for the Cardinals, it was for my teammates, it was to put us in that mentality," Miller said. "There ain't no backing down now."

And secondly, the Broncos defense, which made the wrong kind of history in the two previous games, having allowed back-to-back 200-yard rushers in the same season -- no other defense had done it -- showed it can still dismantle an offense.

They had moments against the high-powered Chiefs and Rams this season when they showed they can frustrate the league's best some of the time. But this was the first time the sleeves got rolled up and stayed rolled up for an entire game.

The Broncos did exactly what they needed to do against a team in worse straits than they were. And Miller can now say he told everybody so.