After taking care of the Ravens, the Broncos received a San Francisco treat on Sunday night.
Thanks to the 49ers win over the Patriots, the Broncos are in sole possession of the second seed in the AFC playoff race. A coveted first-round bye comes with the top two seeds. To clinch the second seed, the Broncos need to beat the Browns and the Chiefs in their final two weeks.
The beauty of the 2012 Broncos is that to them, they only have one game left, not two. They have the ability to keep their attention fixed on the task at hand. That task is sending the Browns back to Cleveland with a loss on Sunday.
“The only thing that’s going to mean something to me is if we play well and get better this week and try to beat Cleveland,” quarterback Peyton Manning said. “That’s really all we’re focused on. That’s been the best thing we’ve done all year is approach every opponent the same, regardless of who the team was and where we were playing and what the situation was and what their record was.”
This is what veteran leadership does. It keeps a team grounded. It keeps a team looking forward. And the younger players are taking note. They know they cannot listen to people telling them how great the Broncos are.
“You can’t listen to that,” safety Rahim Moore said. “I’m going to tell you this, it’s never as good as you think, and it’s never as bad as you think. Those types of things come with the territory. You have to welcome it, but at the same time, you can’t get complacent because it can all go downhill. You have to stay focused and stay hungry.”
The Broncos are hungry for a trip to New Orleans in February. They are hungry to put a third Lombardi trophy in the lobby at Dove Valley.
This is a team focused on the ultimate goal. And the Broncos are smart enough to know that reaching that goal is accomplished by doing things the right way and not overlooking any of the small details. They’re smart enough to realize that reaching that goal is accomplished not just by beating the Browns but by playing well in the process.
“That’s the thing I’ve always believed in, in the month of December, ‘Are you getting better? Are you making some strides every week?’ We still have some things that we want to get better at, we feel like we need to get better at, and that’s what we’re trying to do this week,” Manning noted. “Usually if you get better, hopefully a lot of times some good things will follow. That’s our goal is to get better this week and to try to beat a good Cleveland team.”
This approach won’t win any public relations contests. No matter how hard one tries to dress up hard work, the story is never all that exciting. The Broncos are at this point because they are talented but they don’t take that talent for granted.
“It’s truly the same thing it’s been all along. Getting better every week. If we keep doing that, then we’ll take care of everything we need to take care of,” tight end Jacob Tamme said.
It has worked to this point. The Broncos might as well stick with it. It just might get them to the Super Bowl
In what areas would you like to see the Broncos improve in Sunday’s game against Cleveland?
All the best to you and your families this holiday season. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.