I believe most Denver Broncos fans have gotten over the sting of defeat that the team suffered at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks, so let’s look and see how the team performed overall during the run.
This postseason run was to be thought of as Revenge Tour II, as the Broncos had a similar path in the 2014 postseason as the 1997 Broncos did during their run. The opponents that the Broncos would be facing in the postseason in both years leading up to the Super Bowl were teams that had beaten them earlier within the calendar year. The 1997 team had to go through the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers in order to reach the Super Bowl. The 2013 squad had to get through the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots.
I will be grading the Broncos on each game and then giving them an overall grade. Starting with the Divisional Round, the Broncos got off to a solid start scoring on their first drive of the game and used defensive pressure along with the crowd noise to rattle Phillip Rivers and company. The Broncos were in cruise control for the majority of the game, but the Chargers mounted a comeback that came close to sending the game into overtime, but the offense stood their ground and got enough first downs to win the game.
Grade for Divisional Round: B
The following week against the Patriots was pretty much the same formula. The Broncos’ two touchdowns came on long drives, which ate up a lot of clock. This kept Tom Brady on the sidelines and the defense made key stops, doing enough to actually keep the Patriots’ offense out of the end zone until the fourth quarter, when the game was just about out of reach. The Broncos played this game from start to finish in a nearly flawless manner, and the cherry on top was that they overcame the demons that the Patriots gave them and finally won against them for the first time since 2009.
Grade for Championship Game: A-
With the AFC Playoffs completed by finishing their retribution against the teams that beat them, the cherry on top would be winning all the marbles. It was not meant to be. The Broncos were just flat out beat two weeks later in Super Bowl XLVIII, especially from the start when the opening snap flew over Peyton Manning‘s head and turned into a safety. The Broncos’ defense was a bright spot by keeping the Seahawks’ defense out of the end zone and limiting them to field goals, but they could only do so much to keep the offense in the game. The offense kept shooting themselves in the foot, especially with turnovers. I would put them at an ‘F,’ especially if they did not score, but the fact that they at least got on the board and the defense played decently gives them a bit higher grade.
Grade for Super Bowl: D-
Overall, the end result was not the way the team had hoped it would happen, but what they did in the other two games gives the team optimism going into the 2014 season. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out next year for them.
Overall Grade: B-