SANTA CLARA, Calif. — DeMarcus Ware has been one of the NFL’s dominant pass rushers since 2005, but it wasn’t until Sunday night that he considered his career complete.
Ah, the rarefied air of a Super Bowl victory.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a sense of relief, I would just say that there’s a sense of ‘I have arrived,’ ” said Ware, who signed a free-agent deal with the Broncos before the 2014 season following a nine-year career with the Cowboys. “Just being a champion. It was a hard-fought battle for so many years for me. It just feels great to just [savor] the moment right now.”
Ware has been a terrific bookend pass rusher with Von Miller, who won the Super Bowl MVP with 2 ½ sacks and two forced fumbles of Cam Newton. And the Broncos’ relentless pass rush was the key factor in the team’s playoff run, in which they beat the Steelers, Patriots and now the Panthers.
But first things first.
“First thing we knew was that [the Panthers] are the No. 1 running offense in the NFL, so we had to stop Cam Newton, [running back Jonathan] Stewart, just all of their supporting cast,” Ware said. “We said, ‘If we can make them one-dimensional and pass the ball, we can unleash the guys like me and Von and Malik [Jackson] and [Derek] Wolfe, and we can get pressure on him. We were able to do that. You give it to the offense for scoring enough points to where they had to pass the ball, where they can’t run a lot of those trick plays. That’s how we were able to get pressure on them.”
Ware is particularly happy for quarterback Peyton Manning, who may have played his final NFL game.
“It’s awesome with Peyton getting his second ring,” Ware said. “It’s a hard-fought battle. This is my 11th year. We both predicate our careers on consistency. It’s hard getting there, but it takes a team. The team really wanted it. We really wanted it. The guys just jumped on our backs and played well, and we were able to pull this game out.”
Ware paid tribute to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who previously had been Ware’s head coach in Dallas.
“I’m actually one of his proteges,” Ware said. “Once I found out Wade was coming here [in 2015], I knew that he was going to be able to sort of teach the guys and reach the guys like Von, Malik Jackson, and Sylvester Williams and Derek Wolfe, to help them use their ability to get where we need to be. You can see how he helped in this type of game.”