Broncos big underdogs in today's playoff game

The Indianapolis Colts are a heavy favorite in today's Wild Card playoff game against the Denver Broncos as the teams meet for the second consecutive week. Read what the players and the media are saying about the game in today's news reports.

Indianapolis' Magnificent 7 - Denver Post - Anthony Cotton
Sunday, January 09, 2005 - The biggest challenge facing the Broncos today in their AFC wild-card playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts will be trying to tame a monster they helped create. "Looking back, I think that game might have shown, when we're all healthy, what we could do on the field - how we could be when we're all clicking," wide receiver Brandon Stokley said of last year's 41-10 opening-round postseason rout.

Broncos worthy of this moment - Denver Post - Thomas George
Sunday, January 09, 2005 - Say two names around the Broncos - Brian Griese and Daryl Gardener - and you get winces and second looks. Both were models of the team's futilities the past few seasons. Griese lasted from 1998 through 2002 as a Broncos quarterback and is remembered as a divisive force, a lackluster leader, an underachiever and a genesis of the split between the team's offense and defense. Gardener, a defensive tackle, lasted one season last season, all of five games and two starts. He was a habitual complainer, whether it was about running sprints or working overtime, and his negative effect spilled over to younger players. This season the Broncos say they have shed the final remnants and lasting impact of these two players in particular. This is a year the Broncos have coalesced into a true team, albeit a 10-6 one, that has a different mind-set heading into its playoff game today at Indianapolis.

No can do? Broncos have some hope - Denver Post - Woody Paige
Sunday, January 09, 2005 - When the Broncos conquer the Indianapolis Colts today, Pat Bowlen will stand at midfield and shout "This one's for John ... John Lynch." The Broncos' owner then will bellow, "This one's also for Jake," and he will holler, "This one's for Mike, too," and, finally, with what little is remaining of his voice, Bowlen will roar "This one's really, truly for meeeeeeeee." When the Broncos defeat the Colts today? O ye of little faith.

Double dip - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Sunday, January 09, 2005 - Let's play two! That's common enough in baseball, not so in the NFL. Yet today, a week after the Broncos beat the Indianapolis Colts 33-14 in the regular-season finale, the teams meet again in an AFC wild-card playoff game. Colts coach Tony Dungy insists it's no big deal. "For me, it's just like playing a doubleheader in baseball," he said. "You go out in the second game and it starts out 0-0 and the team that plays the best wins. You can say, 'Hey, we won the first game or we really hit well in the first game or we made a couple of errors in the first game.' But all that doesn't matter. The second game still starts out 0-0 and you still have to play it."

Broncos must learn to count to six - Denver Post - Jim Armstrong
Sunday, January 09, 2005 j- The key to today's game? The Broncos have to come away with touchdowns when they get the chance. Not that they've been settling for too many field goals, but the working title of their season highlight film is "3". Maybe there's hope yet for the Broncos. Larry Birdine, the Oklahoma defensive end who called Southern Cal "an average team," says Peyton Manning can't wash Jake Plummer's jock.

Baker's return for 2005 an option - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Sunday, January 09, 2005 - Do you think Jason Baker will be back next season since he isn't doing that well so far, even though he is kicking at altitude and is having trouble with his consistency? Or, will the Broncos be looking for a punter-kickoff man in free agency or the draft?

In perfect world, 49 would've been Manning to Harrison - Denver Post - Anthony Cotton
Sunday, January 09, 2005 - The Indianapolis Colts' offensive success hasn't come without the occasional hiccup. As quarterback Peyton Manning approached Dan Marino's record for touchdown passes in a season, there was a great deal of semi-serious joking within the team about who would make the record-breaking reception. In a perfect world - one where the Colts could truly do whatever they wanted against opposing defenses - Marvin Harrison probably would have been the recipient. Playing with Manning for seven years, the duo has combined for 82 touchdowns, second only to Steve Young and Jerry Rice (85) in NFL history.

Lynch warning remains in effect - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Saturday, January 08, 2005 - On a day the NFL rebuked a passionate plea by Denver safety John Lynch to retract a stern written warning, coach Mike Shanahan broke his silence about what has become the storyline of the AFC wild-card playoff week. Shanahan shared Lynch's concerns of whether he will be treated fairly by officials Sunday as a result of a warning to officials from the NFL. A letter sent by the NFL to Lynch said officials will be looking for illegal hits, and that Lynch could be ejected from Sunday's playoff game at Indianapolis.

Case of déjà blues? - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
January 8, 2005 - Football and Al Wilson have run together, stride for stride, through the years. Through the parks and schools of Jackson, Tenn., to the Saturday afternoon splendor of Neyland Stadium on the University of Tennessee campus right into the middle of the Denver Broncos defense. And along the way, Wilson has been lauded for leadership and awarded for his production. So, believe the face, the linebacker says. Believe the eyes. And see the embers one simple football play has left behind.

James could provide true 'Edge' for Colts - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
January 8, 2005 - The Indianapolis Colts have the edge Sunday, if oddsmakers and playoff seedings are to be trusted. "We don't even need to show up," Denver Broncos linebacker Al Wilson shot back with anger this week. "We need to let these guys play in the second round, basically." OK, so there's some dispute on that point. But there's no question Indy has "The Edge," which will play an even more pivotal role in determining whether Denver can upset Indianapolis.

Lincicome: Broncos will deliver a shock to the system - Rocky Mountain News - Bernie Lincicome
January 8, 2005 - Curiosity seems more a chore here than a preoccupation concerning the Broncos, the playoff appetizer assigned by lot to annoy the Colts, the new wonder darlings of football and their darling quarterback, Peyton Manning. It must be a waste of time to learn about these Broncos since they are, like teamsters and cold fronts, only passing through. Somebody has to play The Super Bowl's Most Wished For Team in the RCA Dome on Sunday, if for no other reason than to loosen the locals for the rematch with New England, a team that needs neither introduction nor a pronunciation guide. The Colts have bigger catfish to fry, or to boil, as they sometimes do around here. Nevertheless, I tried a bit of word association on a tattooed counter swab at the downtown Steak n Shake just to get an idea of how seriously anyone is taking the Broncos. "Denver Broncos," I said.

Krieger: Lynch should test NFL integrity with hard hit early - Rocky Mountain News - Dave Krieger
January 8, 2005 - You have to admit, it looks like the NFL wants to help Peyton Manning move on in the playoffs, even if it doesn't need to. It's hard to blame league officials. After all, Manning and the Colts' run-and-shoot is obviously a ratings bonanza. Still, you'd think they'd be a little more subtle about it. Integrity of the game and all that. As it is, the Broncos are up against not merely the Greatest Quarterback in the History of Mankind, but the refs and the league office, too. John Lynch is officially on double-secret probation, having received the word in writing from Dean Wormer's office. And the teachers - I mean, the refs - have written permission to throw him out of Sunday's playoff game. In fact, you can read Wormer's letter as encouraging them to do so. I say the Broncos put "Bluto" on his jersey where "Lynch" normally is and see what happens.

Broncos must force Colts off-balance - Mercury News - Frank Schwab
Sat, Jan. 08, 2005 - The Denver Broncos began preparing for the Indianapolis Colts on Monday and Tuesday, days the Broncos players had off. When the players returned to work Wednesday, they had a plan waiting for them. The coaches spent two days putting it together, hoping their offensive and defensive plan would be creative enough to overcome being a 10-point underdog at the RCA Dome. That's what happened in Super Bowl XXXII. In that game the Broncos were double-digit underdogs to Green Bay, as they are Sunday against the Colts. But Denver's offensive plan took Packers defensive end Reggie White and safety LeRoy Butler out of the game by running the ball away from them, and the defensive game plan to blitz Brett Favre worked. The Broncos upset the Packers, 31-24. "I'd say the Super Bowl was all coaching, nothing to do with the players," coach Mike Shanahan joked this week.

Lincicome: Lynch was just protecting his reputation - Rocky Mountain News - Bernie Lincicome
January 7, 2005 - Hmmm. Let's do the math. Jake Plummer gets fined $5,000 for using one finger and John Lynch gets fined $75,000 for using his whole head. The lesson here, applying this scale, suggests that vulgarity is 15 times more acceptable than brutality, when the NFL could exist very well without the first one but not at all without the second. So, for the kids in the audience, better to be a scamp than a thug, or better to be a quarterback than a defensive back, not that most kids don't already believe that. Here's the bottom line: If there were not roughness, there would not be any unnecessary roughness.

Williams a big hit(ter) in his first year - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
January 7, 2005 - Denver Broncos rookie linebacker D.J. Williams was asked Thursday if Sunday's AFC wild-card playoff game at Indianapolis will be the biggest game in which he has played. Well, get back to him on that. "I wouldn't say so yet," Williams said. "I don't know how to act or feel right now; I'll have to wait until game time and see." Still, Williams, an elite player for De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., and the high-powered University of Miami, has carved out the beginnings of a quality NFL career. Thursday, he was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month for December and is one of the leading candidates for The Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Lelie hopes to deliver big Hawaiian punch - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
January 7, 2005 - He dived in prostrate. He paddled. And Ashley Lelie hopped on his "surfboard," shimmying like a dashboard bobblehead doll before falling back into the "ocean." The post-touchdown celebration Sunday was meant to celebrate his Hawaii roots. It also went exactly like his real-life surfing experiences in the ocean off the Big Island.

Indy gets ready to rev it up on home turf - Rocky Mountain News - Lynn DeBruin
January 7, 2005 - Denver Broncos right tackle George Foster never has played a down in the RCA Dome, but he knows what home cookin' means for the Indianapolis Colts. "They like to kick it up a notch," he said. But this isn't about Emeril's Essence. He was referring to speed, the Colts' not-so-secret ingredient on their home turf. Nowhere is it more evident than on the Colts defensive line, where Dwight Freeney has been known to make even the best offensive tackles look bad.

Bronco believers few, far between - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
January 9, 2005 - When Peyton Manning and Al Wilson were college teammates at Tennessee, they faced many teams that had no realistic chance of beating the Vols. Entering today's wild-card playoff game at the RCA Dome (11 a.m., Channel 4) — with Indianapolis a 10-point favorite over Denver — Manning's Colts are perceived nationally as the BCS power while Wilson's Broncos are the directional school just looking to get paid. "We have nothing to lose. Nobody's giving us a chance to win the football game," Wilson said. "For us, it's going out and believing in the guys in this locker room. This is the NFL, and for people to not give us a chance is kind of a smack in the face." History isn't on the Broncos' side, either.

Broncos (10-6) at Colts (12-4) - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
January 9, 2005 - Peyton Manning is going to outplay Jake Plummer nine times out of 10. The key to the game for the Broncos will be establishing a dominant running game — like Quentin Griffin's 28-carry, 136-yard effort at Indy during the 2003 regular season — and keeping the Colts offense off the field as much as possible. If James has a big day on the ground, stopping Manning is going to be nearly impossible. "We're not overlooking him. We understand, to be honest, he's the catalyst of that offense," Denver linebacker Al Wilson said. "If the running game isn't going, that play-action doesn't work. Definitely got to stop Edgerrin first thing."

Colts' role in fine irks Shanahan - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
January 8, 2005 - The Colts cry, and the NFL listens. That seems to be the feeling in Denver as the Broncos prepare for Sunday's wild-card rematch at Indianapolis in the RCA Dome (11 a.m., Channel 4). John Lynch was fined $75,000 for an illegal hit on tight end Dallas Clark during the final regular-season game at Invesco Field. Colts president Bill Polian, a member of the NFL's competition committee, reportedly asked the league to suspend the Pro Bowl safety, who instead received the stiff fine and a letter warning that similar hits could lead to suspension.

Colts have the Edge on the ground - Indianapolis Star - Mike Chappell
January 9, 2005 - Edgerrin James strolled off the practice field, shoulder pads dangling from one hand, helmet from the other. Another two hours of preparation for today's AFC wild-card playoff game against Denver at the RCA Dome completed, the Indianapolis Colts running back and offensive linchpin declined to stop and discuss his anticipated role in the latest biggest game in franchise history. "Aw, I got nothin' to say," said James, smiling as he moved on to the locker room. "Really, nothin' to say." That's been his mantra much of the season. He's been the silent runner, a marquee back with a mute button. During one of his rare chatty moments during the regular season, James confessed he preferred to "stay under the radar." Sorry, won't happen. Not today. Not for as long as the Colts have a postseason pulse.

Which team has the advantage? - Indianapolis Star - Mike Chappell
January 9, 2005 - The Broncos feature the NFL's No. 6-ranked pass defense and have yielded just 17 TD passes, tied for fourth fewest in the league. CB Champ Bailey and S John Lynch made the Pro Bowl. But QB Peyton Manning's dream season wasn't an illusion. He will feel the heat from Denver's zone-blitzing antics, but his underrated O-line will give him enough time to feed WRs Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley.

NFL really needs Colts' star power - Indianapolis Star - Bob Kravitz
January 9, 2005 - What? You haven't received the memo? By now, everybody knows it's true: The NFL wants the Indianapolis Colts to reach the Super Bowl. The most recent piece of evidence is this John Lynch fine and double-secret probation deal, which will turn the Denver safety into a target this afternoon and likely reduce him to a helmeted Gandhi. If Lynch so much as looks funny at Reggie Wayne, he's a goner. This all comes in the wake of the seasonlong enforcement of the illegal-contact rule, a change led by Colts team president Bill Polian in the wake of the team's AFC Championship game loss to the New England Patriots. (Although the Colts cannot be blamed for the Ty Law injury, which will keep Peyton Manning's nemesis sidelined the rest of the postseason.) The only question left is, how does the NFL, desperate for the Colts' star appeal in glamour-challenged Jacksonville, Fla., guarantee victory in the AFC title game? Not to worry.

Wild-Card Notebook: Mauck Promoted - - Andrew Mason
Sunday, January 9, 2005 - Matt Mauck is not only back home again in Indiana, he's back on the Broncos' 53-man roster. The Evansville, Ind. native was promoted off the Broncos' practice squad early on Sunday morning, rejoining the Broncos' regular roster in advance of the wild-card clash with the Indianapolis Colts. Mauck was on the 53-man roster for the first two weeks, suiting up as the Broncos' emergency No. 3 quarterback. Denver waived him Sept. 22, signing him back to the practice squad two days later, where he remained until Sunday morning. To make room for Mauck, the team waived running back Johnathan Reese, who joined the team on Dec. 28. Reese was the first Ivy League alumnus on the Broncos' roster in 35 years, but was inactive for the game against the Colts last week.

Coyer: Time to 'Raise Mortal Hell' - - Andrew Mason
Saturday, January 8, 2005 - Just over one year after the Broncos fell in the wild-card round at Indianapolis, the reason for the loss remained as clear to defensive coordinator Larry Coyer as it was on the day it happened. "We weren't playoff-ready," Coyer said. "They were. That's the deal." Coyer's defense was fourth in the league last year before it yielded 41 points to the Colts. It again stands at that perch, although with two more Pro Bowlers in its midst -- Champ Bailey and John Lynch. It was that wild-card loss that helped make the offseason arrivals of Lynch and Bailey possible; the need to fortify the secondary became a priority after Colts quarterback Peyton Manning scorched the Broncos for 377 yards, five touchdowns and a 158.3 passer rating.

Colts at a Glance - - Tucker Gilmore
Saturday, January 8, 2005 - It's Wild Card Playoff weekend in the National Football League, and for the top 12 teams, now is the time to play its best football. Regardless of how teams reached this point in the season, the fact remains: one loss equals the end of the season. For the Denver Broncos (10-6) and the Indianapolis Colts (12-4), Sunday will provide one team with hope, and the other with thoughts of what might have been. Last week these same two teams met in Denver, where the outcome was a 33-14 victory by the Broncos. Although the Colts starters only played a limited role, Denver scored a must-win and earned its spot in the postseason. This week the Broncos face a situation which has is all too familiar. Last season, the Broncos had to go into Indianapolis for the Wild Card game, and came away a thoroughly beaten team. However, the 2004 Broncos look to reverse the result.

Broncos-Colts AFC Wildcard Capsule and Notes - - Andrew Mason
Saturday, January 8, 2005 - A re-rematch. The game marks the 13th time in NFL history that teams have met in the final game of the regular season and in the first round of the playoffs. Only five times has the team that won the final game repeated in the first round. The Broncos defeated Indianapolis 33-14 last Sunday. The meeting that everyone remembers, though, is last season's Wild Card clash between the two. Colts Pro Bowl quarterback PEYTON MANNING threw for five touchdowns and Indy scored on its first seven possessions for an eventual 41-10 win in Indianapolis.

League Fines Lynch for Hit on Clark - - Andrew Mason
Wednesday, January 5, 2005 - The NFL proved to be the bearer of bad news for John Lynch. Three days after his jarring first-quarter hit on Colts tight end Dallas Clark, the 12-year veteran learned he'd be fined $75,000 for it. "I was certainly surprised," Lynch said. "There is an appeal process that's available to us and we'll take it up." Lynch intends to appeal the fine. "I'd just like to just say that throughout my career I was taught to play hard and I think I have throughout my career," Lynch said. "I think my reputation has preceded me in terms of playing hard and playing physically, but also I've taken great pride in playing within the rules. We have a difference of opinion with the league on this particular situation. "I'm not going to get into the details because it will be appealed and that's all I'd like to say. Again, I felt like I've stuck to what I've always tried to do – play hard and do my job to the best of my abilities. I really just want to focus on the game this week."

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