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Lane Johnson earns trophy for shutting down NFL's 'best' pass rusher

Inside Lane Johnson's locker sat a pristine No. 58 Von Miller jersey. It wasn't the one Miller wore during the game; that one went to Fletcher Cox.

This was one still clean, neatly folded inside a clear plastic bag. Miller summoned a Broncos equipment manager to get it for Johnson after Johnson handed him his No. 65 jersey. It's a pretty common NFL postgame ritual.

"Just another one to hang on the wall," he said after tapping the plastic-wrapped jersey.

Johnson can consider this one a trophy.

Because for most of Sunday afternoon, Johnson shut down the best pass rusher in the entire league. No sacks, no QB hits, no QB hurries as the Eagles' crushed the Broncos, 51-23 (see breakdown).

"He's a very disruptive player and can take over a game so I just wanted to neutralize him the best I could," Johnson said. "I had a good game against him. As far as confidence, it boosts my confidence a little bit but everything we want is in front of us the next seven games. Take this week off to rest and get back at it."

Since entering the league in 2011, Miller has 81.5 sacks. That's the most in the league and over five more than the next closest guy on the list. Miller did pick up a strip sack Sunday afternoon, but it came against Isaac Seumalo after Johnson was taken out of the game with a huge lead. Miller admitted he would have preferred to get the sack when the Eagles didn't "have the ‘B’ team in."

When Johnson was in the game, Miller simply couldn't get anything going.

"Lane did a heckuva job against Von Miller, who to me, that guy is the best guy I have ever seen on film," tight end Brent Celek said. "You gotta give Lane a lot of credit, man. He did a heckuva job." 

Johnson said the key to neutralizing Miller is getting off the ball to match Miller's quickness. He also said it's important to not get fooled by Miller's wiggle, which aims to raise a tackle up and then go through him with a bull rush. 

This matchup against Miller was one of the reasons the Eagles elected to keep Johnson at right tackle even after Jason Peters went down for the season. Miller, Demarcus Lawrence and Khalil Mack all line up on the left side of the defensive line more often than not. The Eagles preferred to have Johnson face those top pass-rushers instead of Halapoulivaati Vaitai. 

Johnson has been playing at a Pro Bowl level in 2017.

"Lane is one of those guys, man, that when he gets locked in in a zone, he's tough — he's a tough tackle," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. "Hats off to him the way he prepares, too, and the way he practices to get ready for guys like Von Miller."

Johnson is seeking some redemption this year after serving a 10-game PED suspension last season. It was his second offense and a third would probably end his career with a two-year ban. He also missed four games for his first PED violation in 2014. 

"With the things that have gone bad in my career, I just want to show people what I'm capable of as a tackle," Johnson said. "That's really it, man. I just want to reach my full potential. If I do that, man, I think I did pretty good."

Shutting down Miller is a pretty good start.