Good morning, Broncos Country!
It's tempting to say, "I told you so."
Make that oh-so tempting to remind the doubters - analysts, fans, even the wary Broncos faithful - that I have been saying this Broncos team was for real. That they could - no, would - win this.
But I don't need to.
Just like Cam Newton learned the hard way, those who don't believe, will regret it.
How the doubters could possibly have missed the fact that the "greatest team in the NFL" had only played mediocre teams and could easily be stymied by the NFL's No. 1 defense is beyond me.
Guess they didn't get the memo (the one the Broncos didn't get two years ago) - defense wins championships.
But we don't care about the doubters anyway. They're not doubting anymore.
#Broncos confidence manifested into anger. Defense tired of hearing about Newton. "No one talked about he would deal with us" CB Talib said— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) February 8, 2016
But it's the team we care about, and they knew.
"We had no doubt. We knew what we had in this group and we knew what we could do. We had to stop that No. 1 offense from doing anything," said defensive end Malik Jackson. "It feels awesome. We lost last time, but won this time. I'm just trying to take it all in, man."
Even if some in Broncos Country were wary of this team, the players never gave up belief. They were "battle-tested" after all, and they had been telling us they'd win.
"It has been that way all year. We pride ourselves in what we do. What a better way to close it out," said T.J.Ward, who had an interception and a forced fumble in the game and is more than happy to not listen to nonbelievers anymore. "Guess what? It is the last time we have to say it, because we are world champs."
Unlike the Denver Broncos of 2014, this team was ready to take what they wanted, what they had earned, not react to what they were presented.
So they marched into Levi's Stadium and won exactly how they knew they would - by fighting, by grinding, by pushing back the enemy one sack, one hurry, one takeaway at a time.
Actually 7 sacks, 13 hurries and 4 takeaways.
Von Miller knew it.
Peyton Manning knew it.
Gary Kubiak knew it.
John Elway knew it (I mean, he built it).
So what if the offense wasn't spectacular with Star Wars numbers? The only people - the only people - who should be complaining about this defense being "the force" behind this championship is Cam Newton, who was pummeled time and again by that crew.
I assure you No. 18 isn't complaining about his defense. Or No. 10 or No. 22 or any offensive player.
Sure there were missed tackles, missed blocks, five sacks and a few turnovers. Sure it was tough to score, doing it just four times out of 14 drives, three of which were field goals. But in truth, Manning's night wasn't bad. If you exclude the second quarter's 2-for-7 pass completions and one interception, his quarterback rating was 92.2. Not bad against a Carolina defense that was no joke.
There is literally nothing to complain about when your team brings home the Lombardi.
We won. Holy Dominating Defense Batman, we won!
In fact, had the Broncos not won this way - with the offense struggling but doing enough when it counted, and the defense playing with its hair on fire for four quarters - it would have been a shame.
A damn shame.
Led by MVP Von Miller and his soldiers, this defense deserves the glory.
And the offense is the first to let them have that.
Owen Daniels was asked how it feels to be Super Bowl champions when the offense couldn't get much done.
"I'd say we'll be remembered as Super Bowl champions with the greatest defense in history, and I'm OK with that," said the two-time Pro Bowler who can now add Super Bowl to his resumé. "This is the rawest defense ever. Ever. To do that to the guy that's changing the game, unbelievable. Our defense, you have to put them up there with the best ever."
Of course Manning was asked about the offense not being able to get much going (as if everyone suddenly had amnesia that the Carolina defense was top 10 in the league and No. 1 in takeaways).
"I don't have a great answer for you. Look, we'd all like to win 31-0, but that's just not our team," No. 18 said, adding that he is very proud to be part of a defense that has been so consistently tough from the get-go. "I'm glad I don't play against this defense. They've just been awesome."
Coach Gary Kubiak couldn't think of enough superlatives for the group coached by his longtime friend and colleague, Wade Phillips.
"Our defense was just special, and they have been all year long," Kubiak said.
And when the obvious questions about Manning and the struggling offense came up, the coach had nothing but praise for that crew too.
"The yardage was hard to come by, but I know his job was very tough," Kubiak said of running back C.J. Anderson, who scored a fourth-quarter touchdown that put the Broncos up two TDs. "I can tell you this: late in the fourth quarter, he's screaming at me, ‘Give me the ball! Give me the ball!' And that's the type of player you want."
The game's MVP wasn't about to let people criticize his quarterback and the team's offense.
"We carry each other," Miller said, giving media credit for trying to make the Broncos one-sided. "It was truly a team effort. If it wasn't for Peyton making decisions that he made to throw the ball short so we could punt the ball, get the ball back. It was truly a team effort. Everybody is used to seeing Peyton go out there and throw 45 points a game. This year, it was truly a team effort. We all had a percentage in this Super Bowl win."
Kubiak also could not be prouder of Manning and his role leading this championship team.
"I just told him how proud I was of him...battling his way back for the football team," Kubiak said. "He comes back and leads this group at the end. I know it was just very, very special for him to be a part of this. He knew he was on a good football team. And he just knew that if he was going to go out there and do his part, this team had a chance to win a championship. I'm just so proud of him."
It shouldn't have been any secret this team was going to compete to win. Time and time again these Broncos won in the most miraculous ways and so many wanted to believe that it couldn't keep happening that way.
But the defense kept telling us it could.
And the players told us because they knew something so many refused to accept - those outcomes were not miracles; they were goals/hard work/practice coming to fruition.
This team knew adversity. It knew grit. It knew patience.
It knew victory in the face of defeat.
"I'm just so proud of our team. That's the kind of games we've been winning all year. It was tough offensively but defensively we were tremendous. On special teams, we played great," Kubiak said during the celebration on the field after the win. "It was just another grind-it-out win."
You know what? I'm just going to say it.
I told you so. :)
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