When the offseason arrives, it gives fans a chance to get into all the fun discussions about their favorite teams and players. One conversation that is a staple of offseason fun is, of course, “Would you rather?” On the MHR Radio Podcast (ApplePodcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher), Ian and I had some fun with a couple different questions.
With the Denver Broncos, a popular question in this game is would you rather the Broncos had won the 1997 AFC Divisional playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, or the 2013 Divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens? One rule that Ian and I implemented was that we had to pick one. No saying both or neither.
In 1996, the Broncos were the best team in the NFL at 13-3. They were the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, and a prohibitive favorite. Head coach Mike Shanahan had put together what was clearly the best team in Broncos history (at that point). Terrell Davis won the AP Offensive MVP. The Broncos sent nine players to the Pro Bowl, including John Elway.
With his career fading, Elway had what looked like his best chance to finally win a Super Bowl. The Lombardi Trophy had eluded him in some heartbreaking ways, but this was it. Broncos Country felt like it could finally be John’s year (he was always John in my house).
In 2012, Peyton Manning led the Broncos to a 13-3 record (again). After a shaky start to the season, going 3-3 in the first six weeks, Denver came out of the bye and rattled off 10-straight wins. They were more than just wins. The Broncos demolished their opponents. It was the best team Denver had with Peyton Manning.
The loss to the Ravens was heart-wrenching. The game was over. The Broncos defense just needed to stand firm and hold Joe Flacco in check. Instead, like many of you, the Hail Mary that fell into the hands of Jacoby Jones, over the outstretched arms of Rahim Moore, is burned into my memory.
It also gave us the infamous John Fox choosing to take a knee with 30 seconds left, the ball in the hands of PFM and Matt Prater kicking field goals from 50-plus with ease. It was peak-level frustration for Broncos Country.
Now that the #Broncos are on summer break, @AdamMalnati16 & I had some fun on the @MileHighReport Radio Podcast. "Would you rather ..." Denver beat the Jags in 1996 or Ravens in 2012? h/t to @MaseDenver for the inspiration.@ApplePodcasts: https://t.co/cU0GKAmhWC— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) June 12, 2019
As Ian said on the podcast (ApplePodcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher), the ancillary effects of the Broncos winning that game, keeping Ray Lewis from going out a champion, potentially beating Tom Brady one more time in the AFC Championship game, and so on, make this a prime pick for many fans.
The 1996 Broncos were supposed to be the team that broke Elway’s curse. After giving the franchise some of its best years, but falling short three times in the big game, it was time for the team to finally complete the ultimate task. Denver was the best team in the NFL, and looked like a potential beginning of a dynasty. It was finally all coming together.
And in my house, John Elway was the Denver Broncos. Having grown up in Broncos Country, spent summer days at training camp in Greeley, and having hopes dashed multiple times, this felt like the jinx was rearing its ugly head. Like we would never get to celebrate Elway’s greatness. As if he would finish as the best to never win the big one. It was a crushing, infuriating defeat, and has served as the fuel for my fiery hatred of the Jaguars ever since.
My choice clear, it was the ‘97 loss to the Jaguars. What’s your choice Broncos Country? Vote in the poll, and give us your reasons in the comments.
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Would you rather the Broncos ...
This poll is closed
Beat the Jaguars in 1997?
Beat the Ravens in 2013?