Thomas' exploits excite grandma
--Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has only recently
become comfortable discussing the plight of his grandmother, Minnie
Thomas, and mother, Katina Smith, both of whom are in a low-security
women's prison in Tallahassee, Fla.
The two were convicted of trafficking cocaine when
Thomas was 12. And even though Thomas' closest female relatives speak
to him weekly, those conversations took on an greater meaning after the
Broncos receiver capped a 204-yard performance with a game-winning
touchdown in the wild-card game against the Steelers.
"It was a big moment," Thomas said.
His grandmother could barely hide her excitement.
"She was like, 'Me and the girls were watching you
on TV,'" Thomas said. "'We're so excited.'"
Slow Start No Problem
--Denver is one of just five teams to start a
season 2-5 or worse and still reach the postseason.
The others: the 1970 Bengals (1-6 to 8-6); 1990
Saints (2-5 to 8-8); 1995 Lions (2-5 to 10-6) and 2002 New York Jets
(2-5 to 9-7).
It's that type of turnaround -- coupled in the
Broncos' case with a season-ending three-game losing streak, followed
by a shocking win over 12-4 Pittsburgh in the wild-card round -- that
prompted running back Willis McGahee to call this experience the most
fun he's ever had in the postseason.
"I'm just happy to be a part of this team," he
said. "This is a team where people didn't expect us to do anything
coming into this year. We didn't start out the way everybody wanted us
to start out, so they kind of wrote us off early. Now, we're sitting
here shocking people."
--Both of the Broncos' coordinators were getting
some love as head-coaching candidates, given Denver's surprising
But, in the end, that success cost offensive
coordinator Mike McCoy his chance to interview with the Jaguars.
McCoy had been slated to interview on Jan. 9, the
day after the Pittsburgh game, had Denver lost. But that plan had to be
scrapped as preparations for the Patriots began in earnest on a short
The Jaguars went ahead and hired Mike Mularkey as
Jack Del Rio's replacement.
"Like I told them some time on Saturday (the day
before the wild-card game), I had a very strong belief that we were
going to win the football game," McCoy said. "So I couldn't go as early
as they wanted me to go. I talked to (Jaguars GM) Gene Smith, and he
wished me the best of luck. He had to do what was best for the
Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has the
advantage of Rams majority owner Stan Kroenke owning Denver-based
Kroenke Sports and the downtown Pepsi Center arena. So St. Louis
officials flew into town and were due to meet Jan. 12 with Allen, after
the bulk of the Broncos' on-field prep for New England has been
"It's obviously exciting, but really, at the end
of the day, in my mind it's more of a tribute to those players that are
in the locker room," he said. "It's a tribute to the assistant coaches
that I work with every day. When you have success as a team, individual
achievements come. Obviously, I'm thrilled about it, but my focus is
going to be to try to win a game against the New England Patriots."
BY THE NUMBERS:
5 -- Teams without a regular-season winning record that have won a game
in the playoffs over the past decade. Denver joined that group with its
overtime victory against Pittsburgh. The previous four teams to enter
the postseason with a non-winning record (Denver finished the regular
season 8-8) were eliminated in the divisional round.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"I love listening to people hate on us because we get to prove them
wrong. I mean, you can hate if you want to, but we're still here and
we're moving forward. The more you hate, the more we feed off of it."
-- Tight end Daniel Fells, on the prevailing opinion that Denver has
little shot against New England, even after the Broncos eliminated
Talk -- Patriots Talk
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