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Denver Broncos Literally Playing Like It’s 1999

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Denver Broncos 27 — New England Patriots 13

When a basketball player commits a foul, they raise their hand in admittance of fault.

Well, that’s what I’m doing. I picked the Patriots to win tonight, but the overlooked, written-off Denver Broncos showed me — and the visiting defending champs — up pretty well.

New England, under the control of coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, had never lost any of their ten playoff games. I’d pick them again. That’s simply part of my prediction formula.1

Every sign of success that slid “We’re No. 1″ rings on the hands of the Patriots — not to mention Vladmir Putin — was absent inside the unruly Invesco Field:

  • Tom Brady usually limits his turnovers — he had three playoff interceptions in ten games. Tonight he threw two balls into the hands of Denver defenders.
  • Brady usually finds his receivers wherever they may roam. Tonight, he overthrew his targets and generally misfired on third downs, fourth downs, and fourth quarter drives.
  • Kicker Adam Vinatieri usually sends the ball through the uprights in game-winning situations, notably multiple Super Bowls. Tonight he missed a 40-yard field goal try in the fourth quarter, which would have brought his team within eight points.
  • The team usually holds on to the ball, and this year they only had 9 fumbles. Tonight: three fumbles, including two on special teams.

Apart from the Patriots, usually the Broncos lose playoff games unless their quarterback’s name is John Elway. Tonight Jake Plummer, who must have bought Johnny Damon’s hair, didn’t exactly take over the game, but managed it well and let his defense pressure an out-of-sync New England offense during the entire 28 minute, 12 second chunk of time Brady lined up under center.

Denver’s last postseason win was Super Bowl XXXIII, played on January 31, 1999. (So if you didn’t understand the headline by now, now you do.)

The only ingredient to their success souffle stayed unpunctured when Brady threw a touchdown pass to David Givens, keeping alive the streak of seven straight games Givens caught a ball for six points.

In snapping New England’s postseason win streak, Denver now has one of their own: wins over New England in the playoffs. The last time these two groups of large mammals knocked helmets in the postseason was in the ’86 season when Denver ousted New England 22-17 at Mile High Stadium — also in a divisional playoff game.

Next week: The AFC Championship

Most people’s short list of AFC championship favorites included the Colts, Patriots, and perhaps the Bengals. Little buzz was around the fuzzy Plummer and his band of merry men. But while Denver awaits their opponent next weekend (the winner of the Colts/Steelers game), expect many people talking about the emergence and resurgence of the once-inconsistent quarterback from Arizona State. Also expect many occurrences of the phrase “Jake in progress.”

Either that, or the toothpick-sized attention span of sports fans will shift to Indianapolis, provided they beat the Steelers on Sunday, and label them as the likely AFC kings.

Regardless of the outcome of next week’s AFC Championship game, the Broncos franchise has moved in the right direction, and an annoying monkey has been removed from Denver coach Mike Shanahan’s back. And it’s now living in Plummer’s beard.

1. — My prediction formula, especially in playoffs, favors the defending champions. I used this in picking a winner in the Rose Bowl, where USC was the favorite and Texas had to prove to me they could beat the best to be the best.

About Suss

  • RJ Elliott

    RJ’s NFL Predictions for Sunday, 01/15/2006:

    The Colts dismantle Pittsburgh, 34-13

    The Bears smother Carolina, 16-10

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    Way to go out on a limb there, RJ.

    I’d probably go with the same choices, but knowing my pickin’ skills I wouldn’t be shocked if one of those guys lost. Carolina seems to be a sexy upset pick.

    Rationale: As a starter, Rex Grossman has 4 career wins. As a starter, Jake Delhomme has 4 career playoff wins.

  • Justene

    Clearly neither of you was aware that I put on my lucky Steelers sweatpants this morning.

  • RJ Elliott

    What a game! I have to admit the Steelers deserved to win it, although I was rooting against them.

    Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning must have done something really bad in a previous life, to deserve the sort of playoff disappointments they’ve had to experience over the years…

  • Justene

    The lucky Steelers gear was clearly necessary.

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    Yeah, but after the Bus crash at the 2-yard line, wasn’t it necessary for a change of pants?

  • sal m

    has a bearded qb ever won the super bowl? or has a bearded qb ever even started a super bowl? oh wait, did ken stabler have a beard or just a moustache?

  • Bennett

    Stabler had a full on neck beard. Trimmed nicer than Plummer’s tho…

  • Bennett

    Oh, and the Bears lost. RJ…. Your picks kinda sucked man.

  • RJ Elliott

    I was 0-4 this week…well, maybe 1-3…

    I picked the Pats, the Colts, the Bears, and hoped the Redskins would win, while assuming the Seahawks would…

    At any rate, yeah, I sucked… :-/

  • Brad

    Denver and Seattle in Superbowl XL. Former AFC West rivals meet in what is probably the most unlikely match-up in years.

    Denver wins – 31-24.

  • Andy Marsh

    no way…Carolina and MAYBE Denver….probably Denver…but if Pittsburgh can play four quarters of football they may be in trouble..Jake’s never been a really good pressure guy…I don’t think he’s much better than he was in his AZ days. When he sees what looks like 15 big white jerseys coming at him…he may get a little antsy! That was a nasty pass rush they put on the Colts!

    The Seachickens haven’t had to play a football team in the playoffs…come on…the Deadskins couldn’t put numbers on the board! 120something total yards the week before…They’re not ready for John Fox and that Carolina defense!

  • MCH

    Seahawks 34, Panthers 14