A month ago, the Denver Broncos defense surrendered 70 points in a single NFL game to the Miami Dolphins. After that game, many wondered if Miami put up 70, what would the Kansas City Chiefs do?

Since that time, the Broncos’ defense and Vance Joseph have made significant adjustments to the scheme and personnel, and it is paying dividends.

Denver Broncos defense finding their groove

There’s been a lot of noise outside of the Broncos locker room with some of their up and down performances this season, but every player in that locker room has shut it out in an effort to turn things around.

Sunday’s 24-9 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs was a big first step, and the defense is a huge reason why.

Denver’s defense made life difficult for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense, flustering him in the pocket, hitting him eight times, and, more importantly, forcing takeaways.

The Broncos defense came up big on third down on Sunday, holding the Chiefs to 3-of-10 in those situations. What was even more impressive is that Denver held Kansas City scoreless in the red zone, forcing them to go 0-of-3.

We just put our mind to it,” Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain said postgame. “We just told ourselves during the week that we will come out here and dominate. Give effort all four quarters, and that’s what we did as a defensive unit. The effort was there, we made plays, [forced] the turnovers. We had like five turnovers so that was a big part of the game to win. Just as a defense as a whole this week, we wanted to establish ourselves and get back on track and that’s what we did.”

Denver’s defense had two interceptions, one from Ja’Quan McMillian and another from Justin Simmons. Josey Jewell forced a fumble early on in the game, and Baron Browning strip-sacked Mahomes at a crucial point in the first half.

The Broncos’ other forced turnover came on special teams, with Tremon Smith prohibiting Mecole Hardman from having a chance to recover his muffed punt, allowing Drew Sanders to secure the ball in a key moment that solidified Denver’s dominance on the afternoon.

Ja’Quan McMillian emerging into a gem for Denver secondary

Ja’Quan McMillian has had such an impressive trajectory this season and has emerged into a gem for the Broncos secondary.

He was the team’s second-leading tackler behind Alex Singleton, coming up with six total tackles with two of them being big stops as tackles for a loss. On top of that, he had one pass defensed and one interception that halted any momentum Kansas City was attempting to build.

“I think he’s starting to play confidently,” Broncos safety Justin Simmons said of McMillian after the game. “Any time you can go out there and play confidently, you play faster and things slow down for you. He’s getting into a rhythm and a flow, and his preparation in terms of his film study throughout the week and asking questions. I think he does such a good job of feeling what the offense is trying to give him and how they’re trying to set it up. It’s not easy against that team. Like I said, I can’t give enough props to them and what they do and how they do it, because it’s so hard to defend. I think ‘J-Mac’ [CB Ja’Quan McMillian] just did a good job kind of playing what he was seeing and playing confidently and playing fast. From another point of communication, when you communicate so well, it puts everyone else at ease. Even a slight motion and you just reiterate what you’re in, it can put everybody at ease and not question like, ‘Maybe it’s this, maybe it’s that,’ and those split-second decisions. Like I said, guys are playing a lot faster and the communication’s been so clean and that’s kind of the result you get, nine times out of 10.”

Communication has been key for Denver defensively over the course of the last several weeks, and that awful feeling from a month ago has completely dissipated.

There’s a saying in football that always comes to mind, it’s not about how you start; it’s about how you finish. Denver’s defense didn’t get off to the start they’d hoped for this season, but they’re actively working to change the narrative and finish strong.

How they performed against the Chiefs on Sunday is a huge step in the right direction.

McMillian touched on the defense’s performance against the defending Super Bowl champions.

“I won’t say it’s personal,” McMillian said after the game. “We just played a game we knew we could play all along. [It] took some time. We had to focus on the small things and kept working and kept getting better stopping the run. We pay our respects to them, the champs, and we just played our hearts out.”

Denver now heads into the bye week with some much-needed momentum and will face the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football in two weeks time.