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Orange Crush Defense

This article is about the 1970s-era Denver Broncos defense. For the beverage, see Crush (beverage). For the alternative rock song by R.E.M., see Orange Crush (song). For other uses, see Orange Crush (disambiguation).

The Orange Crush Defense was the 3–4 defense of the Denver Broncos during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The team adopted the 3–4 defense during the 1976 season, and the nickname "Orange Crush" for the team's defense was popularized early in the 1977 season by sportswriter/broadcaster Woody Paige.

It was one of the top defenses of its time with linebackers Randy Gradishar and Tom Jackson, with Gradishar as a potential Hall of Famer. Other key Crushers were defensive linemen Paul Smith (3 time Pro Bowler), Barney Chavous, Lyle Alzado, and Rubin Carter, linebackers Bob Swenson and Joe Rizzo, and defensive backs Billy Thompson and Louis Wright and Steve Foley and Bernard Jackson.

Joe Collier was the defensive coordinator, defensive line coach Stan Jones (inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991), and head coach Red Miller.

In the season the team played in Super Bowl XII, the 1977 Broncos had the NFL's number-one defense against the rush though they were 27th out of 28 teams against the pass.

The team's defensive unit derived the nickname from their orange home jerseys and a popular soft drink, Orange Crush.