Sunday's game was a coming out party of sorts for Elvis Dumervil. the 5'11", 248 lb outside linebacker for the Denver Broncos. "Doom" was an undersized defensive end for the past two seasons. While his production at that position was nothing to ignore, Dumervil wasn't able to fend off the tackles, shed the blocks and bring down the bball carrier in the running game. He was a sack master, but tended to be a one-trick pony. He has incredibly long arns, though, and Josh McDaniels and Mike Nolan decided to win the game by changing the rules. Doom was going to become an outside linebacker, dropping into coverage as needed, sealing the edge agsinst rushers and always, to his delight, getting a chance to chase down quarterbacks.
Many fans and pundits alike had speculated as to whether Dumerbil would be able to make the change. Did he have the skill to cover? Would he still end up fighting the tackles: could he turn the running play back inside? He'd notched a sack opening week, on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals, but could he find consistent production in his new role? Broncos fans were about to find out. Elvis was preparing his 4-pack sack attack.
- Sack 1. 3rd Quarter, Broncos leading by a score of 10-6, 14:53 left on the clock. The Browns have received the first kickoff of the half. It's first and ten for Cleveland and the ball is on the 22 yard line. Dumervil lines up on the weakside, across from Joe Thomas. At the snap, Thomas tries to fight him off, but Dumervil gets a bull rush on him, locks him up, moves him back and then jumps laterally to his left to take down Quinn. He's easily moved one of the best left tackles to enter the game in the past few years. Dumervil has mowed Quinn down at the 20 yard line. Brian Dawkins had helped to collapse the picket and to drive Quinn up into Dumervil's welcoming embrace. One down.
- Sack 2. It's now the 4th quarter and there's 11:20 on the clock: the Broncos are leading, 20-6. It's second and 17 for Cleveland, backed up near their goal with the ball on the 12 yard line. This time, Dumervil is strongside, lined up across from the right tackle, John St. Clair, who was trying to protect Kyle Orton's right side in Chicago last season. He wasn't that effective then, and he isn't today. This time, Elvis bull rushes straight into him, getting his hands on him in textbook form, pushing him back easily and taking Quinn down from behind. Elvis' leverage is really something to see - he's moving a 300+ lb tackle like he's a lightly weighted furniture trolley - just wheeling him backwards and sweeping Quinn to the turf. Vonnie Holliday would have had Quinn from the strongside in a half-second, having also defeated Thomas, but arriving a moment too late. Jarvis Moss and Holliday have also put on pressure. Two down.
- Sack 3. Now it's 3rd and 22, 10"43 on the clock. The ball is now at the 5. Quinn takes the snap and drops back into the end zone. He quickly sees the error of his ways, though, because Elvis has gotten his big mitts on St. Clair again and walked him backwards in a fast rerun of the previous play. Quinn tries to run forward but Doom grabs him from behind. They struggle for a moment, and Quinn manages to make it to the goal line. Doom swings him to the turf on the 2, narrowly missing the safety. This one is a big boy against a man - St. Clair is obviously overmatched and although he tries to grab and hold Dumervil's jersey, it's in vain. Doom has a set on the sideline, and Mario Haggan feigns that he's fanning him down with both hands. The man is hot - very hot, and it's three down for Doom.
- Sack 4. It's late in the 4th quarter and the Broncos are up 27-6. Elvis lines up across from John St. Clair. Once more, St. Clair can't begin to control his man. His attempt at a punch is weak, and Dumervil closes briefly to grab him once again. He plows into St. Clair, who this time just tries to grab him by the face mask, trying everything, anything, to stop the embarrassment. Richard Ayers is doing a good job of pushing Joe Thomas back on the other side and Quinn has nowhere to run. St. Clair reach for the face mask ends up slipping off to air and Dumervil tears into Quinn from the right and slightly behind. Quinn feels the pressure coming, but never sees Elvis. the crowd, by this time, is going insane.
Four sacks in a single game - and only his second game at the new OLB position. John St. Clair, despite being a 10 year veteran, was just a walking victim but Joe Thomas is a serious pro who earned his Pro Bowl berth. Even more impressively - Doom accomplished this in in a single half. It's a personal record for Doom and it ties a Broncos record. The last man to do this was Simon Fletcher, the club's all-time sack leader, in 1990.
"He's just a relentless pass rusher," Champ Bailey said of Dumervil. "He's one of the best I've seen, and I've played with some great ones. Elvis, he never stops, his motor's always on, and I appreciate him for what he did today. If they held the ball one second too long, he was there."
"It hasn't been easy, and I still have a lot to learn," sighed Elvis. "I feel like I am going the right direction, though. Yeah, I guess I'm a linebacker now. It's fun, though. I get to play linebacker and I still get to do what I love - rush the passer. I've found my niche. ... It makes me a complete player."
Yes, we'd say so. What a day for the D! Call it the Legion of Doom: The Broncos have a defense, and the defense has another weapon. Dumervil seems to have found his calling.