The Denver Broncos’ defense has been on a heater over the course of the last seven weeks en route to them winning six of their last seven games. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has Denver’s defense playing at a high level as they approach the most crucial stretch of their season.

Broncos defense turned up the heat against the Chargers on Sunday

Prior to Sunday’s win against the Chargers, the Broncos defense was allowing 17.0 points per game over the course of the last seven weeks, good for second in the NFL.

Part of that success has been relative to Denver’s increased pressure looks and designed rushes sent by Joseph. In Sunday’s win, the Broncos sacked Justin Herbert and Easton Stick six total times, with six players each generating a sack.

Justin Simmons, P.J. Locke, Alex Singleton, Josey Jewell, Ja’Quan McMillian, and Zach Allen each got after the quarterback. Not only did six different players register a sack, but eight different Broncos had a pass defensed in Denver’s win.

“It’s too hard of a league to give a guy like [QB Justin] Herbert, to give him his time — especially a player like him that is very accurate,” Payton said following Sunday’s game. “Disrupting that timing is important.”

Pressure by Broncos outside linebacker Baron Browning attributed to Jonathon Cooper’s interception in the first quarter and P.J. Locke’s strip-sack in the fourth quarter that led to a Josey Jewell fumble recovery helped Denver win the turnover battle.

Locke has had a quarterback sack in three consecutive games, which hasn’t been done by a Broncos safety in the team’s history.

What’s even more impressive about Sunday’s win is the fact Denver’s defense held the Chargers to 0-for-11 on 3rd down and 1-for-6 on 4th down attempts.

Against the Chargers, one of Denver’s biggest challenges coming into Sunday’s game was finding a way to get after Herbert, who was the 8th least sacked quarterback in the league. In the first half alone, Denver generated four sacks on Herbert before he left with an injury.

Payton acknowledged the challenge regarding the Chargers offensive scheme and Herbert’s ability.

“You just can’t sit with one look,” Payton said regarding Denver’s approach to LA’s offense. “You’re going to go in with pressure, with coverage, walk up. You have to win with a few different pictures or it’s going to be a long day. I think to his credit and our staff and the players, it couldn’t just be one thing, it had to be a mix. The timing was good.”

With four games remaining on the schedule against the Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, another matchup with the Chargers, and the season finale against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Broncos defense has to continue their trend of playing at the level they have been if they hope to make a playoff run.