SANTA CLARA – Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has met Denver edge rusher Von Miller several times. The exchanges are never pleasant.
A Week 5 collision was the worst. That’s when Miller smoked his man, sprinted toward Carr and then simply ripped the ball from his grasp.
Carr experienced a flashback early in Super Bowl 50, when Miller did the same thing to Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. Miller beat his man and stripped a ball that bounced into the end zone and was recovered by Broncos defensive lineman Malik Jackson.
Carr hopped on twitter to provide a funny retort.
“Glad I’m not the only one he did that to,” Carr tweeted.
It wasn’t the only time Miller did that on Sunday. He had six tackles, 2.5 sacks and a pair of pivotal forced fumbles in the Bronco’s 24-10 victory over the Panthers at Levi’s Stadium.
“I’m going for the ball every single time,” Miller said. “That’s the type of football player I am. If I was a basketball player, I’d be a 3-point shooter. I’d go for the dagger. That’s what (defensive coordinator Wade Phillips) has been preaching to us all year. We need the ball. We need turnovers. We were able to get them today.”
Denver’s defense was dominant against the league’s best offense and No. 58 led that charge.
Miller was predictably, deservedly, named Super Bowl MVP.
“I wish I could cut the MVP trophy up and give it (a bunch of my teammates),” Miller said. “This was a team effort.”
Miller made two game-changing plays. The first came with the aforementioned strip sack and score. The second came in similar fashion during the fourth quarter of a one-score game. Miller sprinted around the edge and slapped the ball free as Newton cocked to throw deep in Panthers territory. The Broncos subsequently scored and established the final margin of victory.
Those two plays changed the game.
“As a defense, we always look for big plays that can change a game,” said fellow Denver edge rusher DeMarcus Ware, who had two sacks and four quarterback hits. “Von got one early with the strip sack, and after we were able to score, you could see the morale of the whole team rise up. Then he does the same thing again late, and you could feel another swell of optimism. Those plays were really big.”
Miller took time to reflect on this happy ending, which came after some struggles early in his career. He was suspended for PED use and tore an ACL during the 2013 season, trials that made him a better player.
“I tore my ACL. I got suspended,” Miller said. “Even still, I had so much support from my family and my teammates. Everybody told me to keep on pushing. Coach Kubiak says all the time that life is 90 percent fair. You have to do the best you can for that, and deal with the other 10 percent. That’s how I got through it all. That’s been my motto all year. That’s why I’m here right now.”