One of the spoils for a fan of a good team is the luxury of being able to be disappointed even after a win. Generally the phrase, “a win is a win” is uttered to justify an otherwise unsavory performance that happened to end up in victory. For most teams in the league, a win is always enough; a victory always justifies the means. Teams don’t care how they got the victory only that they got it.
However, the Broncos aren’t interested in this phrase this season, not at this point in Manning’s career, not after last season, not if they want to win a Super Bowl. Winning is the only thing that matters to the Broncos, but there is a huge caveat, one might say a super caveat. The Broncos have won a lot since Manning has been a Bronco. They boast a 30-8 overall record, including playoffs, in two plus seasons. However, you would be hard pressed to find a Bronco player or coach to say either season has been a success overall.
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The Broncos are not interested in simply winning, sure they want to win games, but only insofar as it results in a fortuitous seeding for the playoffs and ultimately a run at a Super Bowl win. The only win that matters anymore to Manning and the Broncos is that elusive Super Bowl victory.
However, if this is to happen this year, then they need to be better than they have been so far through two games and they need to be better against the Seahawks this weekend.
Albeit a small sample size, they can’t have games like last Sunday’s game where fans walk away saying, “Well a win is a win”. They have to be better at closing out teams, better at closing out games. Through two games the Broncos have gone up by multiple scores, just to let the Colts and the Chiefs back in the game with a chance to tie.
The Broncos wanted to go out and get tougher, fiercer and more hard-nosed. They wanted to build a team with a killer instinct, a team other teams would fear and respect, quite frankly a team like the Seahawks who beat them in the Super Bowl. However, the last thing a team of this nature does is let other teams, weaker teams, back into games that they have no business being in.
Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan (59) walks off the field after losing the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium. Seattle Seahawks won 43-8. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The Broncos found out in a very humbling manner that their opponent this coming weekend, those same Seahawks, are this type of tough team. The Broncos will travel up to Seattle this weekend and will not find an opponent nearly as yielding as the Colts and Chiefs were towards the end of the game.
The Seahawks showed they were a team with swagger, a team with tenacity when the game is on the line, a team that puts lesser teams away when they have the chance. This is the pedigree for a Super-Bowl winning team. The Broncos talked about building this type of team all offseason, and though they have won, the results are still very convoluted.
This weekend though, the Broncos will get perhaps the truest test in the NFL of just how tough they are and how good their team is by playing in Seattle against the defending Super Bowl Champions. A loss wouldn’t be a final verdict on the season, but how they play will go a long way in telling how far they’ve come since last year’s Super Bowl.
Do they have more of an edge, are they a tougher team, have they become more hard-nosed, can they hang with the team that blew them out of the water in the biggest game of their lives. Better yet, can they win the game and send a statement to the Seahawks and the league that this team is a different animal this year.
In the first two games so far, the Broncos defense stepped up in the eleventh hour when the absolutely had to in order to seal the victory, but this won’t be as easy against tougher teams, it won’t be as easy in the playoffs and it certainly won’t be as easy this Sunday.
A win can be more than a win and a loss can be more than a loss. How you win and how you lose can be a very indicative of what kind of team you are and how far you can go. This Sunday, win or lose, will be a great barometer for the Broncos to see just how well their offseason plan to get tougher has taken hold so far.
If the Broncos want to prove to the league and to their fans, but most importantly to themselves, that they truly are a team with swagger, a team with a killer instinct, then they will find a way make this Sunday’s game much different than the last time these two teams met.