Last week after the Denver Broncos 34-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, defensive end Derek Wolfe compared outside linebacker Von Miller to a shark when there’s blood in the water, saying, “he just gets going faster and faster” when the game progresses.

After the Broncos 29-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, the same could be said about the entire Denver defense.

The Broncos defense played a stifling second half of football after a suspect first half where they allowed 14 points. In the first half, the Broncos defense looked very beatable, specifically on the ground, where they gave up 103 rushing yards on 5.7 yards per carry.

Additionally, it looked like the Broncos red zone defensive struggles were going to continue when they allowed the Bengals to convert touchdowns on both of their red zone possessions in the first half. And the Broncos high-powered pass rush looked like it missed DeMarcus Ware as they failed to take down Andy Dalton in the first half.

Then the second half started, and the killer instincts kicked in.

In the third quarter, the Broncos gave up five total yards of offense to Cincinnati’s high-powered squad — Five.

In the second half the Broncos changed the narrative on getting to Dalton, taking him down four times — three courtesy of Shane Ray. Earlier in the week the second-year pro said he was ready to step up in Ware’s absence, and he delivered big. On back-to-back plays Ray proved he was worth a first-round selection by taking down Dalton.

“I think you’re going to see that from Shane (Ray) and Shaquil Barrett. They’re stepping in for DeMarcus Ware, but they’ve really been working as starters since April 27 when we went to minicamp,” head coach Gary Kubiak said. “They’ve worked for their opportunities, and they’re taking advantage of it.”

Then, in the fourth quarter, Ray proved that he was just as capable of closing out a game as Miller, compiling his final sack of the day when the Bengals were trying to make a final push with just under two minutes left. The very next play Miller extended his streak of games with a sack to five, burying Dalton with a 5-yard loss. Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. attributed the excellent second half to the success of the Broncos offense.

“You’ve got to attribute (the defensive performance in the second half) to the offense. Once they get up, it’s sack and interception time. Once we feel like we get up two touchdowns, it’s over for that team,” Harris said.

Overall in the second half the Broncos had four sacks, one interception and only gave up three points.

“We need to start games better, but we were able to finish this one,” Kubiak said. “I thought we were at our best late in the game.”

The Broncos have been used to clutch performances from Miller since last year’s Super Bowl run. On Sunday, however, the entire Broncos defense stepped up and gave the Bengals no shot at a comeback.