Schon: Deja Vu all over again

As the sixth and final seed in the AFC Wild Card race, Plummer and the Broncos face the unenviable task of heading to the RCA Dome for the second consecutive season, facing a trio of the league's finest in Manning, James and Harrison. <br><br> Last year that combination proved as fatal as your typical 41-10 embarrassment could be. <br>

Forget about the fact that it was an Indianapolis "B" team -- Sunday's 33-14 "win and were in" victory gave Jake Plummer and the Denver Broncos exactly what they were looking for.

A little motivation, a little momentum and a foot in the door for the 2004 NFL Playoffs.

"I was really pleased with our team, the way we came out and played today," said Mike Shanahan, apparently thankful he didn't have to explain how a rookie quarterback named Sorji ended Denver's season.

"The bottom line is we had to find a way to win, and we did do that."

For Plummer, the near-perfect win became the near-perfect showcase, highlighting the quarterback before a franchise still weighing the decision of a $6 million contract option, due the eight-year veteran at the end of the season.

Two touchdown passes, one rushing touchdown and his name firmly engraved in the Broncos record books for surpassing John Elway's passing record with 4,089 for the season.

Not a bad way to close out a season.

Three weeks ago Plummer and his Mile High finger were being fitted for a body suit; today they're the toast of the town.

"I've never been about stats," Plummer announced. "I'm happy we got into the playoffs. Records are great, but they're a reflection of the guys around me. We are just happy with this win, and a chance to start a new season."

I guess you could say he passed the audition, at least temporarily.

Now comes the real season.

As the sixth and final seed in the AFC Wild Card race, Plummer and the Broncos face the unenviable task of heading to the RCA Dome for the second consecutive season, facing a trio of the league's finest in Manning, James and Harrison.

Last year that combination proved as fatal as your typical 41-10 embarrassment could be.

It was a nightmare Rod Smith remembers well.

"It's going to be a battle, and I don't expect it to be anything like last year. It was hard to end the season the way we did last year. I called that ‘the scene of the crime' because they stole our season from us there, and they did it in a big way. We have to go out there and get the chance to avenge some thing that was really bad for us."

In retrospect, ‘really bad for us' is pretty much an understatement.

The humiliation of last year's loss unnerved Shanahan so badly he didn't think twice in swapping the league's top rusher for a Pro Bowl cornerback by the name of Bailey. Toss in the addition of Pro Bowl veteran John Lynch at safety and it's easy to see which direction the mastermind was headed.

Fast forward twelve months and, as Yogi Berra once said, "it's like Déjà Vu all over again."

Unfortunately for the Denver Broncos, he may be right.

Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net

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