Denver’s Second Chance


It was February 2, 2014, just two short years ago…

The AFC champion, and historically the best offense to ever grace the NFL, Denver Broncos went up to East Rutherford, New Jersey, to play the number-one defense in the NFL that season, the Seattle Seahawks, for the 48th Lombardi trophy. The Broncos were in front of over 82,000 screaming fans, and with over 111 million more watching at home. On a neutral field, the Broncos entered that game favored by 2 points, and thanks to a safety by the Seahawks twelve seconds in, it all went downhill from there.

I’m sure the players who are still in Denver feel the sting of a 43-8 loss on the biggest stage in sports, to people like Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas, but likely none greater than John Elway, the team’s General Manager. Elway would end Tebowmania’s stint in Denver after a playoff victory, but he’d replace it with an even greater craze by bringing 36-year-old Peyton Manning in after sitting out the 2011 season with a neck injury. Elway’s move paid off, despite heavily criticized with the speculation if Peyton could ever play again, and Manning broke a couple season records on the road to Super Bowl XLVIII (48). I’m sure with John Elway wanting to rub it in the faces of all his haters and critics, a loss in front of the world had to feel like a low-blow to him, let alone a 35-point defeat, tied for the third-largest margin of defeat in Super Bowl history. John Elway knew he had to do something.

John Elway looked at statistically the greatest offense ever on the NFL gridiron, and knew it simply wouldn’t be enough. He knew by the way the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, he’d need to assemble a better defense if he wanted to compete for a Super Bowl once again. Elway went out in the 2014 offseason and spent big bucks on veterans TJ Ward, Aqib Talib, and DeMarcus Ware, to come to Denver and help the team’s pursuit of a ring. They all believed in what Elway was doing and felt it was their best chance to win a Super Bowl…

And here we are two years later.

 

The Denver Broncos are closer to home this time, playing in Santa Clara, California, home of the 49ers, in opposition to the NFC champion Carolina Panthers, as the Broncos try to earn their third Super Bowl, Peyton Manning his second, and other veterans like DeMarcus Ware and tight end Vernon Davis their firsts. And this time around, their defense is the storyline, not their offense.

The Broncos have the league’s best defense this season, giving up the least yards this year (283.1 YPG) and only 18.5 PPG, a category they ranked fourth-best in. The Broncos have one of the more fearsome pass rushes in the NFL, headlined by Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, two players who didn’t play in Super Bowl 48. They have a nice linebacker core with Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall. They also have a great secondary with Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr, and TJ Ward. With this group assembled, the Broncos have made vast improvements to their defense, opposed to two years ago when their defense ranked in the middle of the pack in yards-per-game and points-per-game.

At Super Bowl 48, the question was could Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense keep up with Peyton Manning and the Denver offense. Now for Super Bowl 50, the question appears to be can a debilitated Peyton Manning and the Denver offense keep up with Cam Newton and the Carolina offense. But an old saying goes like this…

“Defenses win championships.”

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