ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - While it may be officially considered only a preseason contest, Monday night's game holds special significance for the players, coaches and staff of the Denver Broncos.
It provides ample opportunity to extract a little revenge for last season's heartbreaking 23-20 overtime loss to the Peyton Manning led Indianapolis Colts while at the same time allowing the new, and hopefully revamped 2003 roster the chance to eradicate a curse which has proven itself every bit as potent as the Sports Illustrated cover.
The curse of Monday Night Football.
Case in point, the fact that Denver's most recent Monday night victory came nearly two years ago against the New York Giants, the infamous game in which Ed McCaffrey nearly ended his career with two broken bones in his leg.
Last season Denver lost its preseason Monday nighter as well as all three contests throughout the regular season.
Like I said, MNF has not been kind to the Denver Broncos, then again neither were the Indianapolis Colts, braving the twenty-degree temperatures of Invesco Field to solidify the victory with a 54-yard Mike Vanderjagt field goal five minutes into overtime.
It became the straw that broke the camel's back, knocking Denver into a tailspin where they dropped five of their next eight games, eliminating them from any postseason action.
Tonight the Broncos seek revenge, equipped with a brand new quarterback, a new defensive coordinator and a new attitude, bent on improvement.
"We owe these guys," linebacker Ian Gold told reporters. "To me, this is not a preseason game. I look forward to playing these guys and treating it like a regular-season game."
It will in fact be as close as you can get to a regular season game, with projected starters putting in close to three quarters of work.
Revenge or repeat, tonight's game is Denver's barometer for progress, played out before a nation wide audience.
"No one likes to lose, especially like last time," said Denver tight-end Dwayne Carswell. "This time we'll be ready."
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