The 20 biggest what-ifs in Denver Broncos history

  • Blockbuster trade for Calvin Johnson?
  • Missing out on Kyle Shanahan
  • Steve Young the Denver Broncos QB?
Denver Broncos
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15. What if the Broncos didn't fail horribly in the 2005 AFC Championship game?

It sounds harsh, but the Denver Broncos truly failed miserably in the 2005 AFC Championship game. They spoiled a home playoff win against the New England Patriots in the 2005 playoffs, as well as one of the most dominant defenses in team history, with a home playoff loss against Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I still haven't forgiven Big Ben for that, even though the Broncos got back at him more than a couple of times since then.

The Broncos were led by Jake Plummer, who set a franchise record for most passes thrown without an interception that particular season. The Broncos were a dominant ground attack and nearly had two 1,000-yard rushers in Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell. The defense was outstanding, led by All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey and a stellar secondary as well as a variety of players on the defensive front who were castoffs and former NFL Draft busts that somehow were just the right combination.

The Broncos became the first team to beat Tom Brady in the playoffs that particular year, and that win combined with a shocking loss for Peyton Manning and the Colts seemed to be divine intervention for Denver. A home game against Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship game was about the equivalent of Tiger Woods needing to make a four-foot putt to win a golf tournament at the time.

If Denver had beaten Pittsburgh, they would have gone on to face the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. That particular Seahawks team was good, but I don't think they would have been able to beat Denver at their best. We'll never know.