The smile on Champ Bailey’s face said it all.
A grin as wide as his Hall of Fame career has been long.
And now, thanks to a little Peyton Manning pixie dust (via the legend John Elway), Bailey is going to play in his first Super Bowl and biggest game of his career.
Elway, for his part, did say he was going to restore greatness to the Broncos.
Happy Tuesday, friends. We’ve gotten a couple of emails lately wondering how the Broncos are going to deal with the loss of Chris Harris, their best and most consistent defensive back.
The simple answer is that the other defensive backs are going to have to step up. Duh, right?
I’m going to go a little beyond that today, even in a brief little post. The Broncos are actually pretty lucky right now, because none of the other three teams left in the playoffs are particularly well-built to capitalize on the loss of Harris.
While the 24-17 final score won't indicate it, this win was as good as a blowout.
The Chargers couldn't score until the fourth quarter; when they did, it took some pretty fluky stuff to get them into the game. Some garbage zone, blown coverages, and an onside kick later, the game narrowed.
But let's face it, the Chargers came into the game wanting to attack the edges on first and second down. The signing of Jeremy Mincey, which may turn out to be one of the best signings of the year, made this team stronger outside the tackles. And while you may not believe it, Nate Irving and Shaun Phillips both set the edge as well as Von Miller could have.
After a week of waiting, the Broncos finally know who they'll be facing in the playoffs.
The good news? The Broncos ended up getting the weakest team in the playoffs, the San Diego Chargers. The Pats can have Andrew Luck--naked or otherwise...
The bad? There is no bad news, my friends. The Chargers are gonna get creamed.
Wait, you might say. Shouldn't we be at least a little worried? The Chargers just beat the Bengals, in Cincinnati, after all.
Just remember: no matter how bad things are, they can always get worse.
For example, you could be a Chiefs fan right about now. All year long their team gave them false hope, from their acquisition of Alex Smith, to their weak-ass schedule, to their near win against the Chargers with their reserves in Week 17.
Most points in a season? Check.
Most passing yards in a season? Check.
Best team in football? We'll see.
It's playoff time. Everyone goes bare chested and bare knuckles. And we all know what happened to the Broncos last year in the same set of circumstances.
The good news is that last year means not one damn thing; the Broncos are peaking at the exact right time.
Peyton Manning also isn't completely bare this time around. He's had a whole season to get used to the the glove.
In an era of passing gunslingers and greatness, nothing is supposed to surprise us any longer.
Records are broken to be made to be broken--again and again. But let's consider what Peyton Manning has just done.
51 touchdowns and counting--in a Broncos uniform, no less.
Even if he doesn't throw another touchdown all year (which he will), that's over three touchdowns a game, for sixteen games. It's breakable, but you'd better bring your rabbit's foot, a lunchbox, and an army of Pro Bowl receivers.
What's left unbroken? The Broncos hold on the overall number one seed.
It’s no secret why the Broncos lost tonight.
The Chargers converted half of their third downs.
The Broncos converted only a whisper of two.
It’s really that simple. You can take the time of possession, the big plays, the stupid penalties—all of it pales in comparison to the fundamental fact that you can’t string a drive together without converting on third downs. Of course, the converse is also true. You can’t stop a drive without stopping your opponent on third down.
Peyton Manning can’t throw in cold weather—unless he can.
That’s the narrative now. Although the temperature hovered around a frigid five degrees for most of the game, the Broncos offense—and Manning in particular—created a blaze so hot, the Titans needed treatment for third-degree burns.
Make no mistake: the Broncos had two plans in this game. The first was to win the game, which they did handily, 51-28. The second was to send a message to the rest of the league: Peyton Manning can not only play in cold weather, he can torch you.
If you’re coming into Denver late in the year, you'd better believe in Santa Claus. That’s because Peyton Manning is Jack Frost.