There is no way this winter is ever going to end, as long as this groundhog keeps seeing his shadow. I don't see any other way out. He's got to be stopped. And I have to stop him.
Phil Connors from Groundhog Day.
As I wake up to the enormity of yesterday’s epic beat down, I can’t help but feel an awful case of deja vu. I have been a Bronco fan since the late 70s, when my fandom was first fired while listening to radio broadcasts of the games with my father in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I don’t remember much of our first Superbowl other than the fact that, much like this game, we were just never in it, never even gave ourselves a chance. Flash forward 10 years and I was living in Northern Virginia, perfect time to live through the Phil Sims passing clinic, the Timmy Smith debacle, and the the Montana meltdown. For me, the loss to the Redskins was the worst, for that was the one time I thought we had the better team. We jumped out early only to see Timmy Smith set a record for Superbowl rushing yards. That and Northern Virginia was most definitely enemy territory and the media frenzy was nauseous. Today, I feel most for the Bronco fans in Seattle as at least for me (now in Utah) I can just turn off the TV/Internet and keep the Seahawk love and euphoria locked away.
I was strangely calm leading up to the game which for me was very abnormal. I was in the category of cautiously optimistic, but it is normal for me to be on edge and apprehensive on game day. The way the game played out, there wasn’t even a chance for apprehension….it was more like watching impending doom and, while unable to do anything to avoid the calamity, mesmerized and unable to turn away as it hit full force. Deep down, I knew it was over after the the second Seattle field goal. Sure, we were "only" down 8 at the time, but you could just see that Seattle was not going to yield anything to our historic offense. Safety, 3 and out, and turnover on the first three possessions was proof enough of that. We were totally outclassed in every phase, and I would say at every position. DT and Welker had decent games and we did our normally superb job on Marshawn "Least (in this game) Mode" Lynch, but other than that….nothing. We lost in both trenches, got consistently beat on the edges, and failed in every conceivable way. Props to Seattle, they were more than just the aggressors, they were dominant and whatever superlatives they want to use for that defense - they deserve every one.
I mean think about it, if I would have told you that the spread would end up over 30 and Lynch had less than 40 yards, we would have been certain it was a Bronco victory. It is a cruel game sometimes, cruel indeed.
15 years of love, support, cheers and tears, ultimately for naught. I think in some ways, it is even more difficult for us as fans. Sure, we don’t bleed and fight on the actual field, but for us, the memories and pain can linger just as long. Just one step away from the ultimate goal, but oh the fall. All the records set will just be a footnote. MSM talk will again turn to the Broncos being the biggest of losers (three of the five biggest blowouts in Superbowl history came against our beloved Broncos). We will hear the refrain over and over - Peyton can’t win in the playoffs, Denver can’t win the big game, the AFC is a weaker conference, defense trumps offense (OK..maybe there is something to that one) It is the same song I heard over and over again in the 80s - the only change being Elway instead of Manning.
The record setting offense of this year will be drowned in the kind of stats and records we don’t want to be a part of - most superbowl losses as a team (5), most playoff losses for a player (Manning), largest defeat (niners), most turnovers (cowboys), most rushing yards against (redskins), quickest score against (seahawks), you name it..if there is a record in the superbowl you don’t want your team attached to - well, we probably have it.
I don’t buy the talk about us not being prepared, or being finesse, or my biggest pet peeve "they just wanted it more". Any given Sunday happens every Sunday and last night was one for the both the Broncos and the Seahawks. They were the better team yesterday. For me, losing in this manner is actually better than losing a close game. No what ifs, no complaining about the refs, and no second guessing the coaching (well, we will probably still do this, but 35 point loss=not a coaching issue). The only what if for me that holds any water is the what if we didn’t have so many injuries, but even that really rings hollow...yes we had injuries, but so does every team.
Writing in many ways is cathartic. I couldn’t sleep at all last night, just rewatching the nightmare play over and over again in my mind, but having put this to paper has lessened some of the ache. And through it all, I will continue to cheer and continue to support our beloved Broncos. This year was, in many ways, absolutely magical. It did not end in the way we hoped, and the sting will last some time but I for one will suffer through the taunts and the derision, knowing that the attainment of the ultimate prize is that much sweeter after having come through such disappointment and pain. The sun will rise again and it will always be a brilliant orange.