Super Bowl Bound Broncos – Robert Volpe

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They said it couldn’t be done.
What the @!#& do they know?
The Denver Broncos are going to Super Bowl 50

Last week you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone who thought the Broncos would beat the Patriots for the AFC Championship.

Every single one of the hosts from ESPN, to CBS Sports, to The NFL Network were singing the praises of Brady and Belichick and lamenting the faded career of Peyton Manning. The only sports media talking head who picked the Broncos to win that game was our own Hall of Fame nominee Terrell Davis.

“His legacy is in doubt.” “He doesn’t have the arm strength anymore.” “Brady has all his weapons back.” “The Broncos cannot stop Gronk.” It was like Godzilla vs. Bambi the way the media was talking down the Bronco’s chances.

All the smack talk, even with its tempered political correctness, meant nothing when the coin toss was done and the first kickoff sailed out of the Patriot’s endzone.

Denver’s defense came to play. They were mad. Nobody was giving them any respect and they had a chip on their shoulder. Von Miller hit Brady so many times he had to have the equipment manager wipe the backwards 12 off of his jersey during halftime. Demarcus Ware seemed to know the snap count he got off the ball so fast. Brady must have felt like he was trying to pass in a phone booth with the Denver defense scrambling to get a piece of him. All in all, Brady was hit 20 times in the game, sacked 4 times, and picked off twice. A testament to the tenacity of the best defense in the NFL.

Brady was so harassed he didn’t have time to hit his quick release receivers. Bronco safeties and D backs played mostly man to man and chucked the receivers hard at the line disrupting timing plays and pretty much neutralizing Amandola, Edelmann and Gronkowski. The altitude also took its toll on the flat lander Pats. Gronkowski was seen on the sidelines several times sucking air like a fish out of water.

Offensively, Peyton Manning managed Coach Kubiaks game plan well. The plan was well balanced. Manning passed 32 times for 176 yards and 2 TD’s and the run game netted 99 yards on 30 carries.

The highlight that will be played on a continuous loop this week will be Manning’s 12 yard dash on third and ten for a first down. It was the longest rush for the Sheriff since his rookie year. That run brought back memories of John Elway’s head first dive for the endzone in Super Bowl XXXII against the Packers, when he was hit mid air and sent helicoptering into the endzone. Manning sent a message with that run that they were in it to win it no matter what it takes. TV cameras caught the surprised look on Denver defensive players on the bench when Manning took off. It had to be an inspiration to the whole team to see him give himself up like that. He even went in head first to make sure he got the yardage for the first down. Kudos old dude. You still got game.

Collectively, this game was perhaps the most mistake free game the Broncos offense has played this year. Few passes were dropped; they scored touchdowns in the red zone; threw zero interceptions and only turned the ball over once. That turnover on a backward pass that Ronnie Hillman couldn’t haul in set up New England for a touchdown.

In true Bronco fashion and tradition the game came down to the last seconds of regulation and threatened to wind up another overtime nail biter. With 17 seconds left to play Brady hit Gronkowski on a third and goal for a touchdown to make the score 18-20. The curse of the missed extra point on a previous touchdown came back to bite the Patriots. Brady had to go for two to tie the game and send it into overtime. His pass was tipped by Aquib Talib and intercepted by Bradley Roby to ice the game.

The Denver Bronco offense hasn’t been the most prolific scoring team this year, but they manage to get enough points to continue winning. That is due in large part to their outstanding defense. Holding an explosive offense like the New England Patriots to 18 points is a monumental achievement.

So now the Broncos go on to Super Bowl 50 to take on the red hot Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton and the Panthers are playing some inspired football and will be favored in that match up.

Don’t give up Bronco fans. Never say never. We weren’t supposed to get this far yet here we are. There’s an old football saying: Any team can beat any team on any given day and
that is why they play the game.