When the Denver Broncos lose, some fans tend to meltdown. Such is the nature of sports and being a fan. In this particular case, it's hard to fault them, after watching the Broncos get drubbed in all three phases Monday night by the Cincinnati Bengals.
But there is a reason to take heart and let hope re-kindle in the fan-base. The Broncos have made it to the Super Bowl seven times. Each time they've made it to the NFL's championship game, at least one December loss has preceded it.
1977: The Broncos lost to the Dallas Cowboys in the last game of the season, but eventually made their way to Super Bowl XII. (loss)
1987: They lost on the road to the Seattle Seahawks, but still romped through the AFC to represent their conference at Super Bowl XXII. (loss)
1989: The Broncos lost three December games but again reached Super Bowl XXIV for the third time in four seasons. (loss)
1997: The Broncos found themselves in the driver's seat but lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers. They eventually went on to win the franchise's first NFL title vs the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII.
1998: The Broncos started 13-0 but lost in successive weeks to the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins. It was a wake up call and served to catapult them to Super Bowl XXXIII, where they defeated the Dan Reeves-led Atlanta Falcons and Elway rode off into the sunset.
So, what can we glean from this historical look into the rear-view mirror? Sometimes losing in December can test the mettle of an excellent team and serve to galvanize them as they head into the post-season.
Do the 2014 Denver Broncos have what it takes to repeat this feat? They certainly have the talent but the road will be fraught with peril and they'll likely have to steal one win on the road.
As the man leading the charge, John Elway's finger prints are on six of the franchise's seven trips to the Super Bowl. With that track record, it's not hard to believe that the Broncos can pull it off.
Big thanks to Chuck Hickey of FOX 31 in Denver for unearthing this remarkable stat.