In Sunday's Broncos game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Broncos had every chance in the world to win the game, but the difference in losing and not winning ultimately came down to coach Gary Kubiak's decision to kick a 62-yard field goal with one minute left in overtime.
While rare, 62-yarders have happened and more than one have happened at Mile High. Kicking the ball away without taking the shot at the win would have been playing for a tie. The last Broncos coach to do that was run out of town.
In the 1971 season opener against the Miami Dolphins, the Denver Broncos played for and got a tie. Coach Lou Saban infamously said that "half a loaf is better than none" in response to critics within the fanbase and the press. For better or worse, Saban opted to take the safe route and it ended up costing him his job. Furious with the tie, fans of the 1971 Broncos took every opportunity to let Saban know how they felt, tossing half-loaves of bread onto the field.
From then on the mentality of the Broncos regarding ties was codified. While it's been a long time since fans have had to even think of such an outcome, the history bears out that the Denver Broncos do not play for a tie. You have to take a swing. Even if it's an outside long-shot.
At Saban's funeral in March of 2009, Denver's Westword said this:
Broncos fans made it clear that half-a-loaf wasn't better than none -- that it was better to take risks for victory than to play it safe and settle for a non-loss. Ownership listened, sacking Saban eight games later, and since then, a succession of off-the-field bosses have made it clear that winning is priority one, and mediocrity's not an option.
Saban probably didn't intend to send this message, but it came through loud and clear -- and a generation later, it continues to resonate.
Sure, the loss hurts, but would a tie have felt any better? Does being 1.5 games behind Oakland feel any better than being 2 games back?
Brandon McManus missed his shot, but at least Kubiak went down swinging. You want to talk about going down 'Kicking and Screaming?' That ain't playing for a tie.
Here are your recaps.
The Oakland Raiders squeaked out another one. Looks like it's going to be a tough road for the Broncos to catch them... this year. Panthers-Raiders score, highlights: Derek Carr's finger injury looks really painful - CBSSports.com
At least Denver isn't the worst team to have played in last year's Super Bowl. The Carolina Panthers could make the most painful kind of NFL history | FOX Sports
The Pats keep beating terrible teams. Patriots do just enough to beat Jets | ProFootballTalk
Brock Osweiler continues to disappoint in Houston. Texans come back to pack after Brock's three picks - NFL.com
Marvin Lewis is running out of time in Cincinnati. Will the Bengals part ways with Marvin Lewis? | ProFootballTalk
Kirk Cousins is going to have to wait to see what kind of commitment Washington wants to make. Washington won’t decide on Kirk Cousins until after the season ends | ProFootballTalk
The Giants may be a little better than this article would suggest. How do the painfully average New York Giants have an 8-3 record? | FOX Sports
Drew Brees torched the Rams. Drew Brees ignites Saints' offense in win over Rams - NFL.com
How does a theft like this happen inside the players' garage? Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III and girlfriend Grete Sadeiko have money and wallets stolen from players garage
The AFC is shaping up quite nicely for the team that plays in New England. Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 12: Raiders, Patriots remain on an AFC collision course - CBSSports.com
How much trouble are the Broncos in considering the loss to Kansas City? Here's a look at the standings. NFL Standings for Each Division After Week 12 | FOX Sports