History does not travel in a straight line.
Sometimes the path to a really good place travels along a route that is filled with potholes and rocks, and sometimes it seems like we might never get to our desired destination.
The Broncos have one of the great histories in the National Football League, highlighted by 18 playoff appearances, 11 AFC Western Division titles, eight appearances in the AFC championship game, six Super Bowl games and back to back world championships.
But, in the most recent years, we have had some shaky times.
Those times are over.
Every fan can feel the ultra-positive orange vibe bouncing off the walls at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, a vibe that seems to fill the very air itself as it spills beyond Denver and the Rockies to the rest of the country.
NBC Sports President Dick Ebersole himself called today to tell team owner Pat Bowlen that the ratings for the Broncos’ 31-19 win over the Steelers were the highest in the history of Sunday night football, and in fact the highest for any primetime NFL game since the Denver-San Francisco matchup in 1997.
Everyone watched and saw a tremendous game by the Broncos and Peyton Manning.
Despite a 21-minute second and third quarter time frame in which Pittsburgh ran 44 offensive plays to Denver’s three (with one of those three a kneel down to end the first half), Denver posted a huge opening-night victory over one of the league’s storied franchises.
Despite a time of possession of just 24:55 minutes, Manning produced more first downs (20 to 19), and total net yards (334 to 284) than Pittsburgh while throwing his 400th and 401st touchdown passes in one of pro football’s ultimate and most obvious Hall-of-Fame careers.
Just fantastic for all fans.
And that is another part of the story. Denver’s 181 no shows and the fourth highest attendance in team history – 76,823 – at the Sunday night game, which in an era of NFL Network, Direct TV, TiVo, plasma screens, big screens and home theaters is an astonishing low total.
The excitement level at the stadium was palpable, team fed on the crowd and the crowd fed on the team.
The orange jersey is back as the primary home jersey for the Broncos and without making any effort to encourage the fans to wear orange to the game, the stadium was a wall to wall, top to bottom sea of orange.
The no huddle? A big weapon for the team Sunday night and moving forward. Manning was 19 of 26 for 253 yards two touchdowns and a passer rating of 129.2.
The fans like it. It is us. The atmosphere was fantastic all night.
The overall vibe and results Sunday night were everything that the fans and team hoped for, and we only build on it from here.
It is a tough schedule and there is a real difficult opponent taking the field against us every week.
But the 2012 season is underway, and it could not be more positive as the Broncos get ready for the rest of our one-game schedule.
At Atlanta, Monday night football.
In Denver, and nationally, must-see TV.
History does not travel in a straight line, but the Broncos have survived the potholes and are back on the freeway. And you have to love the guy who is driving the car.