The Broncos "enjoyed" their BYE week, though I certainly hope there is little enjoyment for a team sitting at 2-3. What they could be doing is taking notes from there brethren who came before them, 10 years age, a team that didn't know the word quit and enjoyed a run to Super Bowl glory. Week 6 of the 1997 season saw a battle of un-beaten's, with the Broncos and Patriots entering Mile High Stadium unblemished and ready to stake claim to the top of the AFC.
Come with me as we relive the Broncos Championship run of 1997 with this week by week look at the 1997 season as told by the post-game news reports.
They are the AFC's best team. Period.
In fact, it can be argued that Denver is the best team in all of football with the best running back - Terrell Davis.
With Davis rushing for 171 yards on 32 carries, Denver emerged as the NFL's only undefeated team by pasting New England 34-13 before 75,821 fans at Mile High Stadium.
``That's a lot of work, but it's definitely good work,'' said Davis, whose second-highest rushing total this season came against the NFL's third-ranked defense. ``The (offensive) line did a good job.''
Denver (6-0) now enters its bye week with the best starting record of any team since the Miami Dolphins in 1992. And when the Broncos play at Oakland (2-4) on Oct. 19, the team record for consecutive victories to open a season could fall.
``This was a big win for us,'' said Broncos quarterback John Elway, who completed 13 of 27 passes for 196 yards. ``I think this will have big implications down the line. . . . We feel good where we are as a team.''
But for a franchise whose motto may as well be
``Super Bowl or Bust,'' the Broncos weren't exactly popping open champagne bottles after the victory.
``Our team will keep this game in perspective,'' Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. ``We talk about this being a very long season. We just played the sixth round. The seventh round is the Raiders.''
If history is an indication, Denver's victory was hardly a surprise. The Broncos have now won 10 consecutive games against the Patriots (4-1), with Elway orchestrating nine of those victories.
But this triumph wasn't decided until the third quarter, when Denver played its best 15 minutes of the season. The Broncos extended a 14-13 halftime lead with 17 unanswered points, thanks to a swarming defense that allowed only one first down and an offense that rebounded from a second-quarter malaise.
Elway - who threw two second-quarter interceptions - helped Denver open the second half with an 80-yard touchdown drive capped by his 1-yard sneak. The key play was a 30-yard pass to Rod Smith on a third-and-10 from Denver's 32-yard line.
Elway and Smith connected again on a 47-yard pass late in the quarter to set up a 1-yard Davis touchdown run, extending Denver's lead to 31-13.
Smith finished with five receptions for 130 yards.
Between those two scoring drives was a 21-yard field goal by Scott Bentley, the Overland High graduate who did well as a replacement for injured kicker Jason Elam. While Bentley missed a 48-yard attempt in the fourth quarter, he made a 33-yarder with 5:24 remaining in the game and all four of his extra points.
The third quarter also was a time when Davis and his offensive line showed a national television audience that his NFL-high 776 rushing yards is no fluke. Davis nearly doubled his first-half rushing output from 57 yards to 112, marking the fifth time he has crossed the century mark this season.
Davis could have done even more damage but was yanked with just under 6 minutes left in the game.
As for the Patriots, it was about as ugly as the loss to Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXI. Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe was sacked three times - all by backup defensive tackle Maa Tanuvasa - and knocked down on numerous other occasions.
The Broncos also did an excellent job minimizing New England's three biggest offensive weapons - tailback Curtis Martin (15 carries, 66 yards), wide receiver Terry Glenn (two catches, 27 yards) and tight end Ben Coates (five-65).
The Broncos took a 14-0 lead as a result of some smash and flash.
The smash: Davis rushed for 35 yards on seven carries on Denver's opening series, capping a 75-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run with 5:28 left in the first quarter.
The flash: Linebacker John Mobley cut in front of Glenn to intercept a Bledsoe pass and return it 13 yards for his first career touchdown.
At this point, it appeared Denver would have little trouble rolling to a victory. Mobley already had forced a Glenn fumble on New England's opening series, and the Patriots gained only 15 yards on their three remaining drives of the first quarter.
``We knew they were a formidable team and could play well when they get up on you,'' said Mobley, who finished with a game-high 13 tackles. ``We wanted to get out early and see how they responded to us. We game-planned them well and we match up with them well.''
But Denver's offense then fell into a slumber. Elway was intercepted on the first play of the second quarter by Patriots safety Willie Clay, who returned the ball 27 yards to the Broncos 44.
That led to New England's first impressive offensive play of the game. Patriots fullback Keith Byars motored past cornerback Darrien Gordon to catch a 44-yard touchdown pass along the Broncos sideline that cut Denver's lead to 14-7.
Clay lived up to his ``Big Play'' nickname again just before halftime, diving in front of wide receiver Ed McCaffrey to intercept Elway again at Denver's 44. The Patriots drove for their second field goal of the quarter, with Adam Vinatieri's 49-yard kick closing the score to 14-13 at halftime.
``This was an opportunity for us to make a stand in the league,'' Patriots first-year coach Pete Carroll said. ``It was also the same for Denver - and they did it.''