Broncos linebacker Von Miller mugs for the camera during the fourth quarter against Cleveland. More photos.
Broncos linebacker Von Miller mugs for the camera during the fourth quarter against Cleveland. More photos. (Steve Nehf, The Denver Post)

Departing from the usual protocol of the honoree being the one to receive the congratulations, Von Miller did the hugging.

The Broncos linebacker embraced Elvis Dumervil after breaking Dumervil's single-season sack record Sunday during Denver's rout of Cleveland.

In only his second NFL season, Miller needed one sack to set a team record. He got 1½ on Sunday, giving him 17½ sacks this season. Dumervil, a defensive end, totaled 17 sacks in 2009.

"I went right up to Elvis and gave him a hug," Miller said of his reaction upon setting the record. "I had talked to him about (doing) that. Elvis is a great guy. All that (stats) stuff doesn't matter to him. All that matters to him is playing our best football. That's also what matters to me."

The Broncos move Miller around, often lining him up as a defensive end on passing downs. But usually Dumervil comes from the Broncos' right side (the blind side for a right-handed quarterback) and Miller charges from the left side of the Broncos' defense.

That double-barreled pressure has wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks all season.

"Whenever you have a guy like Elvis coming from the other side, a savvy veteran who plays with a bad attitude, I learn from him," Miller said. "I know for a fact that I wouldn't be able to get to this spot by myself. Elvis is a huge catalyst in my success."

Dumervil said he appreciated Miller's gesture.

"I hugged him back," said Dumervil, who had two sacks Sunday. "If there was a guy that I'd be most happy to break the record, it's Von."

Miller said he didn't set a goal of setting the record Sunday.

"I just wanted to play great football," he said. "(The record) just says a lot about the type of defense we're playing, the type of teammates I've got, coaches that we've got. It was a joint effort to get it done. I mean, anybody could have gotten it done. I was just on the better end of it."

Miller is being modest. Ask another Bronco about the former Texas A&M star and he'll shake his head in amazement.

"I mean, he's a freak of nature," said Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, struggling to find the right words. "He does things that guys in the league wish they could do. They might practice every day to do it, but Von just does it naturally."

Miller was just part of a wholesale sack attack. The Broncos finished with six sacks. They were able to tee off on the Browns after building a big second-half lead.

On Miller's record-breaking sack, he rushed untouched when the Browns blew a blocking assignment. He knocked Browns starting quarterback Brandon Weeden out of the game with a shoulder injury.

Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said he doesn't know why opponents keep throwing the ball when the outcome of the game has all but been decided.

"If I'm the (opposing) head coach, I'm running the ball," Bailey said. "I'm not a head coach. But I wouldn't put my quarterback in that position. These guys up front are hungry (for sacks). And anytime the game is out of reach like that, you have to find another way to keep the quarterback safe.

"Von really works hard, and I'm proud of him. He wants to be the greatest, and I'm all for that."

The Broncos need only a home victory over Kansas City on Sunday to secure no worse than a No. 2 seed in the playoffs. With Houston's loss Sunday, there suddenly is a chance the Broncos could gain the top seed.

"It's great," Miller said, "but it doesn't change what we do at Dove Valley. We're going to get back in the lab on Wednesday and keep working. We've got a Chiefs team (2-13) coming in that's hungry for a win."

Tom Kensler: 303-954-1280, tkensler@denverpost.com or twitter.com/tomkensler


Broncos single-season sack leaders

2012 Von Miller ... 17 1/2
2009 Elvis Dumervil ... 17
1992 Simon Fletcher ... 16
1993 Simon Fletcher ... 13 1/2
1991 Simon Fletcher ... 13 1/2
1986 Rulon Jones ... 13 1/2
1999 Trevor Pryce ... 13
1996 Alfred Williams ... 13
1985 Karl Mecklenburg ... 13

Source: Denver Broncos