Game of the Year
I began my Sunday afternoon watching the Avalanche play the Blues because even in their injured state, the Avs are a good deal more fun than the Broncos. Plus, the Avs started an hour earlier. When the football started I tried to devote equal attention to the two contests. That changed when the Broncos fell behind 27-0 and the Avs were tied in the third period. Avs time.
But then things started to change. The Avs went down 2-1. I switched to the Broncos, and Josey Jewell picked off Mahomes. That was fun, but ultimately fruitless in my eyes. I figured we’d lose 42-3 instead of 42-0. Back to the Avs. They tied the game with eight seconds left! As ESPN went to commercial ahead of the overtime I switched back to CBS and was surprised. The Broncos had not only scored a touchdown off the interception, they had got another pick. That was intriguing, and I made a note that the game was not a total embarrassment and went back to the hockey.
The Avs won in overtime. Mikko Rantanen had a hat trick. Awesome. I tuned back to Denver just in time to see Jerry Jeudy catch his second touchdown of the quarter. 27-14 at the half. And waddya know, the apathy I’ve felt towards this stupid team for weeks began to trickle away.
And then Marlon Mack took a screen pass 66 yards to the house. 27-21. Three unanswered touchdowns for the Broncos. I was back.
In the end the Broncos still lost, of course. But the boys showed real spirit. They kept fighting. When the Chiefs responded with a Juju Smith-Schuster touchdown catch, the Broncos didn’t give up. Facing a third-and-11 from the 16, Russ ducked a tackle, took off for the chains, and …
If I told you this was my favorite Broncos game of the year you might laugh. They lost, after all. Despite Jerry Jeudy catching another touchdown and Josey Jewell corralling his second pick of the day, the Broncos still lost. If Russ had slid short of the line on that third-and-11 he wouldn’t have been drilled into the turf by Frank Clark. If that hit hadn’t concussed him, he might’ve stayed in the game and backup Brett Rypien might not have thrown a pivotal interception. The Broncos might’ve snapped their 13-game losing streak to the Chiefs.
But Russ didn’t slide short of the line. Russ dove for the end zone, because Russ wanted to score. He didn’t take our money and run. Russ cares. I have slandered this man all year for failing to live up to our expectations, and rightfully so. But when you see a guy who has taken so much crap from our fanbase put his body on the line to win them a game … well, I at least found myself thinking, “I love this team.”
After all the pain and boredom this season’s brought us, I’ll be damned. I think I still love this team.