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Mile High Magic returned for Patriots-Broncos

The "wine and cheese crowd" was snowed-out Sunday against the Patriots. Enter Broncos Country.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

My voice is hoarse this morning. I left it at Mile High.

My calves are sore from walking and standing for five hours and jumping for three. My face is raw, between tending to my runny nose and wearing my new old-school "D" logo Broncos beanie (I'm fairly certain New Era uses microscopic razor blades as the fabric for its hats. Ever hear of cotton, NFL?). My ankles still feel wet and cold, even though they're long dry. I'm pretty sure they'll feel that way for another two days.

My heart is full.

Mile High Magic returned to the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night, and it was wondrous to behold.

It's difficult to quantify the impact of Home Field Advantage in a football game of this magnitude, but I believe Denver's was worth more than Vegas' typical three points on Sunday. I was there; I felt it, and I believe the Patriots did too.

  1. Patriots rookie wide receiver Chris Harper fumbled a punt return that served as the turning point for the Broncos' comeback. Harper doesn't muff that punt in Foxboro, even in wind, rain or snow. Harper fumbles that punt because 70,000-plus were screaming at him.
  2. Tom Brady's 4th quarter and overtime was deafening. I'm not sure how he executed the drive he did when I couldn't hear whatever Ian Henson was saying right next to me. I guess that's why Brady's one of the best.
  3. I know the running backs and the offensive line could feel the energy of the crowd Sunday Night. According to head coach Gary Kubiak, Brock Osweiler checked into that running play that saw C.J. Anderson break tackles in overtime and run 48 yards to the house. According to USA Today, the O-line asked for a running play there. I don't know if they do that if they don't feel the crowd as much as they did.

There have been reports of Mile High Magic leaving the Broncos since the stadium switch, of the "wine and cheese" crowd diminishing the passion of the South Stands and the Barrelmans of the world. I must admit, I feared it. I even saw some evidence of that early in the game.

The Patriots don't muff that punt in Foxboro

Several of us were standing early in the first quarter. Some were sitting. A woman walked up to the front of our section. She addressed all of us crazy standers. "If you all sit down, we'll all get to sit down!", she begged.

I tapped the guy's shoulders in front of me. "You stand as long as you feel like," I told him.

Outside of a few TV timeouts in the first half, we stood the whole game.

As the game progressed, the crowd got louder. I was screaming throughout; I can remember thinking in the 2nd quarter, "Do I need to pace myself? Will I be able to scream this loudly in the 4th quarter?"

I did not need to pace myself. I fed off the energy from the crowd myself, and somehow screamed even louder in Q4 and overtime.

As we approached the end of regulation, we all bundled up for the final push. I recall the Mile High jumbotron showed a bare-chested man beating the wet and cold elements. I couldn't help but think of Barrelman and his decades of devotion in the same manner.

By the time Brady and company were making their drives in the fourth quarter, any questions I had about this crowd were gone. Wine and cheese? Snow and screams.

Maybe Mile High Magic had been missing from Sports Authority Field at Mile High at times. Maybe it's not what it was at Mile High Stadium years ago.  But it was present Sunday Night, electric and permeating.

I'll wear my hoarse voice and red nose as a badge of Broncos pride and evidence that Mile High Magic can be alive and well. And a smile knowing I was part of it.