The matchup that everyone was seemingly focused on this week was how the Broncos defense would hold up against Ezekiel Elliott and the elite Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line.

The Broncos, who finished last season with the 27th-ranked run defense, proved itself an improved unit capable of standing tall against some of the NFL’s best running attacks when they held Chargers’ running back Melvin Gordon to 54 yards on 18 carries in the Broncos’ season-opener victory last week.

Still, most were not convinced that the run defense was completely fixed, as the Broncos would need to provide more than just a one-game performance (against one of the league’s shakiest offensive lines) to prove that their defense could defend against the run as well as it could against the pass. Elliott and the Cowboys’ No. 2 ranked running game from 2016 would provide the true test.

The Broncos more than delivered.

In the week leading up the game, Denver placed starting defensive end Jared Crick on injured reserve to repair a disc in his back, which furthered the notion that they would have a difficult time time stopping the Cowboys rushing attack. Instead, the trio of starters in Derek Wolfe, Adam Gotsis and Domata Peko led the way for the Broncos’ run defense.

Elliott was held to a total of eight yards on nine attempts, as the Broncos limited the star running back to 0.9 yards per attempt during the team’s 42-17 victory in front of their home crowd in Denver. Both were career lows by a wide margin. His previous career lows of 51 and 2.55 came in his first NFL game. He did not record a game of less than 3.88 yards per carry for the rest of 2016.

On Sunday, the Broncos’ defense was able to consistently penetrate the Cowboys’ offensive line to disrupt Elliott in the backfield and take away his desired running lane or make contact with him before he reached the line of scrimmage. Once Elliott was hit once, it wasn’t long before the rest of the defense was there to finish the play.

Once the Broncos were able to establish a lead, the Cowboys were forced to abandon their running game and force quarterback Dak Prescott to throw the ball.

It wasn’t just the defensive line that stood tall, the entire front-seven of the Broncos’ defense showed up big on Sunday, as inside linebacker Brandon Marshall notched six solo tackles and one assist, while outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett recorded four solo tackles and three assists.

So far, the Broncos have held a pair of star running backs to 54 and eight rushing yards, respectively. Denver has not allowed a rushing touchdown through the first eight quarters of play.

Next week, the Broncos travel to New York for a showdown with the Buffalo Bills, who also have a star running back in LeSean McCoy. The only team who managed more rushing yards per game than the Cowboys last season was the Bills.

The Broncos so far appear to have a run defense that is much improved over the unit that fans saw last season. If the Broncos can continue their consistent play defending the run, they should find themselves forcing opponents to throw the ball into the feared “No Fly Zone.”

That plan worked in 2015 all the way to a Super Bowl victory.