The frigid cold weather is not the only thing stinging Denver Broncos fans this week. Saturday’s crushing double-overtime divisional loss to the Baltimore Ravens ending the Broncos’ miracle year (with home field advantage no less) is enough to make any Denver fan shiver. Despite the outcome on Saturday, one has to admit that the Broncos were definitely the team to watch this season for more than one reason.
I imagine the hierarchies of the Broncos organization held their heads high (ahem, Mile High that is) as 4-time MVP and future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning, proved he had the Mile High Magic that led the Broncos to an 11-game winning streak, a 13-3 regular season record that earned the Denver Broncos a 1st seed playoff spot. Those who questioned Manning’s arm and neck strength at the beginning of the season were certainly proven wrong with Manning completing 4,659 passing yards, 37 TD, and 21 sacks after sitting on the sidelines for a year after his fourth neck surgery.
All these statistics aside, Manning seemed to freeze like the weather Saturday and left some fans in shock, but Denver’s loss does not fall all on one man’s shoulders. “Peyton played well enough for us to win, we just came up short,” Broncos head coach, John Fox, told the Denver Post in a post-game interview after Saturday’s loss.
No stranger to playoff pitfalls is Denver’s own 2-time Super bowl QB and Broncos Executive VP of Football Operations, John Elway, who is encouraging his team (and fans perhaps) to use this as momentum. “This is something that the players will remember for a long time.” Elway stated in Monday’s post-season press conference, “Like I said, it’s how we approach it, how we use it, how we learn from it. It gives us an opportunity to be that much better next year.”
On Elway’s “better next year” note, the positive side to this season is the Broncos (and Manning) did better than expected. Improving from 8-8 last year to 13-3 is something we fans should still be proud of. Furthermore, if Elway believes that the team can be much better next year, that alone should give Bronco fans faith that the path to 2014’s Super bowl may find its way through Mile High once again.
Rest assured that the Denver Broncos and company will make the most of the off-season and go into training camp fueled with the drive to win. With the 2013 opponents already announced and Baltimore listed to play the Broncos again in Denver, they will have their chance at redemption in Mile High.