In sports, when a team goes through tough times, it seems like those times will never end. Similarly, when a team goes through good times, it seems like those times will never end.
The good times are rolling for the Denver Broncos.
On Sunday, they clinched the AFC West with a 31-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was the latest example of Peyton Manning’s immeasurable talent, Von Miller’s immeasurable impact and the Broncos’ incredible knack for having the heretofore anonymous player step into the spotlight.
Seriously, Mitch Unrein scored a touchdown?
He sure did. And he also hit Josh Freeman just as Freeman delivered a pass that Miller intercepted and returned 26 yards for a touchdown. That pick-six gave the Broncos a commanding 28-10 lead with 3:56 left in the third quarter.
That’s the kind of season it has been. Whenever the situation demands it, someone steps to the forefront. If not Mitch Unrein, then it has been Chris Harris. If not Chris Harris, then Tony Carter. If not Tony Carter, then Trindon Holliday. If not…well, you get the idea.
While you dream of a playoff run and a third Lombardi Trophy, take a moment to savor the experience of watching the 2012 Broncos. Remember what you are witnessing.
Because we have consistently watched the Broncos excel this year, we can too easily think that seasons like this are the norm. Just a brief stroll down memory lane reminds us they are not. Watching a great team play causes us to take its ability for granted. We come to believe it will be great all the time.
The Broncos themselves, however, know better. Their goal has never been to be 9-3. It has never been to only win the AFC West. That’s why they view the achievement as an inevitable—and almost insignificant—step on the journey to a much greater accomplishment.
“Anytime you win, I enjoy it for a minute, at least a few minutes tonight (Sunday)” head coach John Fox said after the victory over the Buccaneers. “Then we turn it around and get right back at it the next day so that part won’t change. It’s business as usual.”
That’s the perspective of a man who coaches a team that aspires to much more than a measly division title.
“There’s different championships,” Fox said. “Your division is obviously one. Everybody aspires to be in the conference championship but at the end of the day, everybody is looking for that world championship. It’s a great accomplishment (winning the AFC West), a tribute to the staff and coaches in that locker room. They did a fantastic job. We still have a whole quarter of the season left. We’ll see what happens.”
Few would argue that the Broncos have had a great season to this point. But the work isn’t done. Their ultimate goal has yet to be reached.
“Winning the division, that was certainly one of our goals,” quarterback Peyton Manning said. “We still want to keep getting better throughout the season. Not a whole lot of time to think about it with a game on Thursday. But it sure feels good to get the win.”
Cornerback Champ Bailey briefly acknowledged the division title before also turning his thoughts to the next challenge of playing the Raiders on Thursday.
“That is something that you always want to do. It feels good to get that wrapped up but we have to put that behind us and get ready for the Raiders this week,” Bailey noted after the game.
The Broncos didn’t celebrate a thing after beating the Buccaneers. As the 850 KOA broadcast team noted, the Broncos didn’t pass out t-shirts or hats in the locker room. To the Broncos, winning the AFC West is not an earth-shattering feat. It’s simply a byproduct of going about their business.
If your goal is to win the Super Bowl and you’re good enough to do it, then winning your division is hardly worth talking about.
“When you’re good at something, you’ll tell everyone,” the late Walter Payton once said. “When you’re great at something, they’ll tell you.”
Everyone is telling the Broncos how great they are. The beauty is they’re not listening. They’re too busy winning games.
And they’re too busy working on plans to celebrate a much more significant achievement in New Orleans in February.
What impressed you most about the win over the Buccaneers? Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.
Tags: Mike Rice