Red Miller Dies at 89; Coached Broncos to Their First Super Bowl

Miller did not inherit a mess from Ralston. The Broncos were coming off their best season to date, with a 9-5 record, and many of the pieces for their first playoff run were already in place, including the core of the 3-4 defense that became known as the Orange Crush.

Anchored by All-Pro players like the linebackers Randy Gradishar and Tom Jackson, the defensive backs Bill Thompson and Louis Wright, and the lineman Lyle Alzado, the Orange Crush became one of the most feared defenses in the N.F.L. under Miller’s leadership.

The biggest addition to the roster that year was the veteran quarterback Craig Morton, whom the Broncos had acquired from the Giants in a trade.

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Denver Broncos coach Red Miller on the sidelines during Super Bowl XII in 1978.

Credit
Associated Press

The Broncos had an explosive first season under Miller, attaining a 12-2 regular season record.

After beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-21, and the Oakland Raiders, 20-17, in the playoffs, the Broncos faced Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XII at the Superdome in New Orleans. Denver’s offense crumbled in the face of Dallas’s so-called Doomsday Defense, turning the ball over eight times in the course of the game, seven in the first half alone.

In the third quarter Miller replaced Morton, who had thrown four interceptions, with his backup, Norris Weese, and Denver’s defense held the Cowboys to just 13 points in the first half despite all the turnovers. But Dallas prevailed, winning, 27-10.

Miller led the team for three more seasons and to two more playoff appearances, accumulating a 40-22 regular season record. But he was fired in 1981, after an 8-8 season, when Edgar F. Kaiser Jr. bought the team and replaced him with Dan Reeves, the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator.

“The city seems a little stunned,” the Broncos’ public relations coordinator,…

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