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Denver Broncos Countdown to Kickoff: 22 Days

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2008 was a magical year!

Christian Petersen

The Broncos were a star studded team loaded with young talent and led by a mastermind. This team showed swagger by beating the Oakland Raiders like the red-headed step children they are, in their house, on national television. Eddie Royal served the Raiders and CB DeAngelo Hall a slice of humble pie catching 9 balls for 146 yards and a TD.

They followed that performance with a game by Jay Cutler that absolutely rivaled John Elway's "Drive" in the AFC Championship game. Down by 7 at the end of the game, Cutler heroically threw an incomplete pass that the Charger defender mistook as a fumble before hitting the great Eddie Royal on both the tying TD and go ahead 2-pointer.

Then, with Drew Brees and the prolific Saints in town, The Orange Crushed defense single handedly took over and allowed 32 points, but they didn't allow 35 and the Broncos won for the third week in a row.

Like all great champions, the rise to stardom came too quickly. The Broncos staggered to lose the next four out of five. Then it happened.

"The Rhino" burst through. The absolute greatest Broncos RB of all time--more dynamic than Steve Sewell, more prolific than Terrell Davis, more historic than Floyd Little, and more better than Clinton Portis stepped up to the plate. In what would become the greatest single season by a rusher in Denver Broncos history, Peyton Hillis won the hearts and minds of Bronco fans across the country. Perhaps it was his gritty lunch pail, everyman, style of running, whatever the case, Hillis put the Broncos on his shoulders and took them back to contention.

I'd never seen anything like it. No other 24 yard performance will grace the annals of RB stardom like Peyton Hillis and his effort against the Browns. A week later, Hillis doubled up his HOF performance by wreaking havoc on the Atlanta Falcons and Matty Ice to the tune of 44 yards.

There are a lot of great moments in sports history. Barry Bonds and his assault on Hank Aaron's home run record, Lance Armstrong and his dominance of the Tour De France, Mike Tyson and his life saving bite of Evander Holyfield's ear. But none are greater than Hillis' 71 yard performance against the Raiders. Being the tireless worker he is, he looked at that performance and said "nah son...I CAN DO BETTER". There is no I in team but there is in Hillis. In fact there are two of them, and two are better than one. Those two "i's" defeated Brett Favre in the prime of his career and gave the Broncos a three game lead in the division.

I'm not sure what happened to the story after that, I think Hillis caught a cold or didn't get enough sleep or something--the best in the world need their sleep, but it didn't matter. Ames, Milburn, Hebron, Gary, Griffin...out of all the Denver Broncos running backs that ever carried the rock, Peyton Hillis, is without a doubt, one of them!

Cool 22 Factoid:

Hey Guy, in 2008, Peyted "Hammer" Hillis run 343 yords, fundaments!

Notable Broncos to wear #22:

Tony Lilly 1984-1987

Glyn Milburn 1993-1995

Olandis Gary 1999-2002

Current Bronco wearing #22:

Jacob Hester

Read More: Denver Broncos by the numbers (Kaptain Kirk)