Torched by a Rookie

Yes, the Broncos beat the Eagles. But they were at home with a (mostly) supportive crowd and got lucky with some lucky plays from some mostly-unknowns. BroncosUpdate Columnist Sam DeWitt explains why this won't work on the road… and how to reach the redemption that is home field advantage in the playoffs.

There I was, in the third quarter of the Broncos-Eagles game, in my seat, head in hands, not wanting to watch as the Broncos were squandering another big lead in another big game. I couldn't watch. My cheers and screams, now replaced by silence and worry, were indicative of the rest of the stadium's mood.

Not this. Not this again.

Talk about your Halloween horror stories.

And then it happened. Eagles driving, Broncos stumbling, hope being replaced by dread. We'd seen this before.

And then, a Halloween miracle, as the "other" rookie corner, Domonique Foxworth, picked off a Donovan McNabb pass on its way into the end zone. In ‘Nique we trust.

It was a beauty, too. Diving in front of Terrell Owens, showing no respect for his body, for the fact that if that ball got through, we were cooked. Slow-roasted. Flame-broiled. Give up a touchdown, and our spirit would have been broken. We would be 5-3 right now, just barely in the AFC West lead, just barely in the hunt. Worse, we'd be exactly where we were at the same point in the season the last two years. And that road led us directly to the guillotine in Indianapolis.

But not this time. Nope, this time will be different. Todd "Whip It" Devoe said so. As did Tatum Bell. And Jake the Snake didn't make a mistake. And Rod Smith was Rod Smith. And Sam DeWitt drank beer at the game, and cheered. And all was right with the world.

In the same way that Champ Bailey's interception of Drew Brees in week two changed the course of our season, from playoff watchers to playoff contenders, Foxworth's interception of McNabb made us immediately relevant. We may not be legit title contenders, but we are certainly part of the argument.

"Whip It" Devoe's catch-and-run played an equally important role, as without it we would have punted again and probably lost the game anyway. Devoe's catch allowed for enough separation and enough time taken to give our defense a breather and make sure that the Eagles were down. If Foxworth's pick was Rocky attacking the body of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, Devoe's catch on third and long was the upper cut to the eye, the big, "the Russian is cut! The Russian is cut!" moment where everything changed. And, since Rocky single handedly won the Cold War for the U.S., I feel that it correlates directly to the Broncos/Eagles clash. No, I will not argue about this.

Now some questions from my inbox at BUMoose@gmail.com:

Is this team ready for the Super Bowl?
Frankly, no. The Denver Broncos are beating teams, but only barely, and only after they figure out how to not beat themselves. They lose control of games in the second half, and that's not how you win in the playoffs, whether you're at home or not. The fact is, if we don't address these second half woes soon, we could very easily go 4-4 in the second half, which would put us at 10-6. Which would put us in Indy for a playoff clash, or worse, out of the playoffs altogether.

Does Jake Plummer really have it this year?
I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. Right now he does, but I'm a little worried about all the press he's getting. Folks at ESPN.com are talking about Plummer for MVP, which is NOT cool. You understand me? I'm not okay with this. And yes, I'm the same person who was angry with the national media for not giving enough props to the Broncos, but there's a difference. Plummer is one of those players that might just start reading his own press and thinking, "they're right. I am an MVP. I'm gonna start huckin' the ball wherever I want." I will now use hydrochloric acid as after shave.

However, if he continues down this road and Denver wins a playoff game, and maybe another, and maybe advances to the Super Bowl… I mean, does Jake have a free pass in this town for life? Does that make Mike Shanahan the "Snake Charmer"? Do I get any and all marketing royalties from the "Snake Charmer" term? Can someone please answer me?

Do you think Denver will get home field throughout the playoffs?
In the playoffs, yes. Throughout the playoffs? Not likely. I think Indy's going to have that wrapped up. But I do believe that Denver can get the second seed, earn a bye in the first round and host the first-round winner at Mile High in the second round. Win that game, keep playing strong football and have some momentum going into the AFC Championship against the Colts, and who knows what might happen?

Are you becoming Mark Kiszla?
No, friends. I'm just calling it how I see it. I worry about the Broncos more often than I worry about my own family (my family does a darn good job of taking care of itself and the Broncos haven't won a playoff game in seven years. You do the math.). In no way does this mean I've suddenly become an unhappy, middle-aged man who takes the so-called "moral high-ground" on every issue. And whines about everything in sports just to make a name for himself. And complains when players and coaches don't do what he considers to be right. So, no, I'm not becoming Mark Kiszla.

Thank God.



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Sam DeWitt is a sportswriter living in Denver. He lives with his dog, Bailey, and spends much of his time in a coffee house in Cherry Creek, reading and writing and drinking caffeine. He can be reached at BUMoose@gmail.com


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