Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos Have Epitomized 'Winning Ugly'

It doesn't matter how the laundry gets done, so long as it gets done. The Broncos find a way to win, even if they're not winning any beauty pageants in the process.

Who remembers the 2013 Denver Broncos that set many offensive records on their way to a Super Bowl appearance? Defying logic and Father Time, Peyton Manning threw for 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards in a season that brought home his fifth NFL MVP award.

The quartet of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, and Julius Thomas all caught at least 10 scores that year, keeping defensive coordinators up at night worrying about how to cover so many prolific receivers. Even though the season ended on a poor note, losing in blowout fashion to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, it was a fun ride.

The 1997 and 1998 Broncos were special to watch as well, being the first teams in franchise history to bring home not one, but two Lombardi Trophies to Broncos Country. It was a privilege to see a once-in-a-lifetime player like John Elway still throwing the ball around the yard to players like Rod Smith, Ed McCaffrey and Shannon Sharpe. Witnessing a 2,000-yard rushing season from eventual League MVP Terrell Davis served as the basis for Denver faithful to be able to tell stories to their grandchildren about the magical autumns when those great players still roamed old Mile High Stadium.

The Broncos found a way to bring another celebration parade to the Rocky Mountains this past February, as Von Miller and the No Fly Zone put the clamps on Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and finally Cam Newton in route winning it all in Santa Clara, CA.

By all football logic, the 2016 Broncos should be a 7-9 or 8-8 ball club. They don’t play with any kind of consistency on offense, the head coach is over-conservative most of the time and for the second season in a row, the Broncos are trusting an unproven quarterback to help get them into the postseason.

There was a story I heard from an old coach where he asked his group of players why can’t a bumble bee fly? Everyone has seen this particular insect move around in the air, but, by all we know from physics, it shouldn’t be able to with it's body being heavier than its wings can support.

Once we all looked around for the answer to his questions, we finally looked back at him for his answer.

He simply said,

“Because the bumble bee doesn’t know that it can’t fly.”

The Denver Broncos are the bumblebees of the NFL — they shouldn’t be in the upper echelon of the league with so many flaws and yet, during the past two seasons, they have been just that. They reached the pinnacle of success, defeating all comers. 

It’s infuriating to see an offense that's an average unit by NFL comparisons and struggles badly to move the ball and score points on a consistent basis. That frustration and annoyance also brings out the best in a defensive group that is still one of the premier units in football.

The more the odds seem to be against this team, the deeper they look within themselves to answer the bell.

Every team has losses that leave you wondering out loud “what did I just see?”. The Broncos dropped games late last season to Pittsburgh and Oakland. Losses to San Diego, Oakland, and Kansas City this season have revealed that this remains an unbalanced team.

If the Broncos defense can’t produce a crucial stop late in the game, or even score on it's own, it can lead to defeats. But, conversely, that same sentiment can be attributed to come-from-behind wins against New England in overtime last year and the down-to-the-wire finish versus the Saints a few weeks ago.

The Fast and Furious franchise gives us an appropriate line that approximates the way the Broncos have come to win games.

“It don’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning is winning.”

As much as it strains the hearts and shortens the finger nails of fans everywhere, the Broncos don’t get many style points for how they take home a victory, but they have proven adept at finding new ways to get them anyway.

On the podium, during the Lombardi Trophy presentation last February 8, Head Coach Gary Kubiak’s used a certain verbiage to describe his players. Whatever changes the Broncos made on the offensive side of the ball or whatever pieces they lost on defense, this team remains a bunch of “grinders”.

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It was a thing of beauty to see the Sheriff baffling opposing defenses and piling up Madden-esque stats in the process, but it stung to lose in devastating fashion in the Super Bowl, too. It was fun seeing a high-octane offense put points on the board, but for the '96 and '12 Broncos, what gets remembered the most was being upset by the Jaguars and Ravens, respectively, in the playoffs.  

I was in disbelief that such an incomplete team like Denver could find so many different ways to win a football game during last season’s 6-0 start, while also giving in to the notion that there wasn’t any way that this was a sustainable path to get through an NFL season.

Yet, despite an injury to arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, a backup quarterback who was taking his first snaps as a starter since his sophomore year in college, and an offensive line that consisted of castoffs, the team found just enough to win it all.

There are so many variables and so much information we can measure and study when it comes to an NFL game. What can’t be measured in regards to the Denver Broncos is the heart, desire, guts and occasionally, a dash of luck.

All of these have combined to put Denver in the playoff hunt again for the sixth season in a row. As fans, media and pundits alike, it’s time to stop holding our breath to see if this will be the game where Denver finally blows out an opponent and just take solace in the knowledge that the odds tell us that they will find a way to win. 

Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.

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