Aug 28, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) meets with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) at AT&T Stadium. The Broncos beat the Cowboys 27-3. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
So, the preseason is over and the Denver Bronco coaches are finalizing the roster for the 2014 season that starts in eight days. Despite the Broncos Super Bowl debacle, expectations are high for this team, possibly even higher than last season, and that raises some concern for this Bronco fan!
On paper the Broncos appear to have a better team than they did last year! Much of that can be attributed to the roster that John Elway has built – not only in the most recent off-season, but in his first two years as the man in charge of football operations. Because the Broncos have a very deep roster and the team has had two good seasons is probably the main reason fans and media alike expect good things from this team. Will this year, Peyton Manning’s third season as a Bronco, be the year that they are able to leap all the hurdles and claim their third NFL championship?
Two seasons ago, the hurdle came in the form of a bitter cold snap in Denver and a 70-yard hail-Mary touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones with 31 seconds remaining in regulation that tied the game. The Baltimore Ravens eventually ended the Broncos season when Justin Tucker kicked a field goal with just under two minutes remaining in the second overtime of the AFC divisional playoff game. Prior to the field goal, the Ravens intercepted a Manning pass that gave them excellent field position leading to the Tucker field goal and the 38-35 victory.
Last season the Broncos secured home field advantage in the AFC playoffs and beat the San Diego Chargers in the divisional playoff round and then secured another AFC Championship when they beat the New England Patriots in the conference championship. The season came crashing down in Super Bowl XLVIII when they Broncos ran into the blue and green buzz saw from Seattle. Unfortunately, the Broncos were never really in the game and the Seattle Seahawks thoroughly thrashed the Broncos as they went on to win their very first Super Bowl by a very lopsided score of 43-8!
Although the Broncos had two very successful seasons, they both ended in a disappointing fashion, albeit in very different methods – one a last minute defeat and the other a sound beating that was painful to endure. Looking on the bright side, the Broncos leadership and players, while they are happy with the season success, obviously can’t be pleased with the way the way the last two seasons have ended.
So, as another season is set to get underway, every fan has to wonder how this season will go and how will it end? As a diehard fan, I hope the Broncos are hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in Glendale, Arizona on February 1, 2015. As a realistic football fan, I know there is too much football to be played and too many variables in play to even be thinking a Super Bowl victory is a given. I certainly hope the Broncos are looking at only the first opponent and not listening to the fans and media about the Super Bowl because that is a long ways away at this point. The number one priority for the Broncos at this point has to be the Indianapolis Colts. Not just the Colts but the first play, and then the second play, followed by the third play, etc. You get my point hopefully – it is one play at a time and you build on each one.
Windows are small in the NFL so you have to seize the opportunity when you can. While Elway has built a strong roster that certainly appears capable of winning the Super Bowl, most fans know the root of the Broncos success is centered around Peyton Manning. It is cliché, but accurate to say that Elway has put all of his eggs in one basket and that basket wears a jersey with the number 18 on it. Manning is nearing the end of his hall of fame career so the Broncos don’t have a lot of time to capitalize on his skill or their recent success. Anything less than a Super Bowl victory at this point will be considered unsuccessful. If the Broncos do go on to win their third Super Bowl, I can’t think of a better way to go out as a player so a Bronco victory in Super Bowl XLIX could very well be the end of Peyton Manning’s career but who knows? Enjoy the season Bronco fans and let’s hope Manning’s third season in Denver really is a charm….. right up to the very end in Glendale, Arizona!