|12-20-2005, 03:05 AM||#1|
Anybody want a peanut?
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ceti Alpha V
Article: Broncos are close to scratching 7-year itch
Broncos are close to scratching 7-year itch
Win would mean first division title since 1998
By Lee Rasizer, Rocky Mountain News
December 19, 2005
The AFC West title is within the grasp of the Denver Broncos.
But defensive end Trevor Pryce isn't ready to acknowledge the significance of such an accomplishment, even if it comes gift-wrapped on Christmas Eve.
"Winning the AFC West is nice and all that, but that just guarantees you a spot in the playoffs," he said. "It doesn't mean anything else."
The Broncos' 28-17 victory Saturday against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., provided that postseason assurance but not the division crown.
The Broncos (11-3) could have won their first outright AFC West championship since 1998, but the San Diego Chargers ended the Indianapolis Colts' bid for an unbeaten season with a 26-17 victory Sunday.
All that remains to secure the division is a victory Saturday at Invesco Field at Mile High against the reeling Oakland Raiders (4-10) or a Chargers loss against the Kansas City Chiefs.
San Diego (9-5) is two games back with two to play and couldn't catch the Broncos in the regular-season finale if Denver beats Oakland.
But if the Broncos stumble against Oakland and the Chargers beat the Chiefs, Denver and San Diego would play for the division title Dec. 31 in Southern California.
Still, the Broncos know their destiny is in their hands and are playing like a team focused on a weekly basis, not one studying potential scenarios. That was the case against the Bills, whose fast start Saturday was followed by a dismantling in the final two-plus quarters.
"There's a lot of excitement," Broncos defensive end Courtney Brown said. "The key is staying focused and not overlooking the games you've got to play and focus on the playoff stuff. We need to finish the season right."
Defining "right" is simple.
"We're still trying to get that bye," cornerback Champ Bailey said.
The Broncos currently are the No. 2 seed in the AFC. They are tied with the Cincinnati Bengals but own the tiebreaker, better record in conference games (8-2 against 7-3).
Winning out assures the Broncos a home playoff game and not having to play on wild-card weekend.
"That's what we want," Pryce said. "That's what we need, even more so than we want it."
While some Broncos players, such as receiver Ashley Lelie, view the AFC West title as a "nice thing" among bigger goals, Pryce almost dismisses it as nothing but costume jewelry in a quest for real diamonds.
But when you have two Super Bowl rings like Pryce does, it perhaps means something less than for someone such as linebacker Al Wilson, who has toiled since 1999 without division-title bragging rights.
"I remember when we did win it in '98, nobody really talked about it," Pryce said. "And I'm assuming we won the AFC West because we were 14-2, quite honestly. No one said anything. That's what San Diego does - they celebrate when they win the AFC West. They put hats on, 'AFC West champs.' I mean, get out of here. AFC West champs. Are you for real?
"They better not print no 'AFC West championship' hats with all four logos on there," he added with a laugh. "That's bizarre."
Nothing is being mass-produced yet, except possibly literature for postseason tickets and a feeling the Broncos are handling their business with a focus that hasn't been seen since the late 1990s.
The Broncos are in the playoffs for the third consecutive season after slogging through early against the Bills (4-10) before busting loose.
They yielded a touchdown on the opening possession, committed four penalties and stalled offensively during the first 1 1/2 quarters. The offense then put together four consecutive touchdown drives spanning 283 yards, starting just before halftime.
"Just like Baltimore, they have another tough defense, and we got after it and figured out their defense before the end of the game," said Lelie, whose acrobatic 40-yard catch on third-and-10 on the first possession of the second half loosened up things. "And with tough defenses, you've got to do that because they come with something different every week. And they keep you on your heels."
The solid footing the Broncos eventually managed was evidenced by a 41-19 edge in plays in the second half.
Receiver Rod Smith played pitch- and-catch with quarterback Jake Plummer to the tune of 11 receptions for 137 yards and one touchdown. The running game got rolling (37 carries for 178 yards), with Mike Anderson scoring twice and the defense essentially stood and watched after halftime.
"That's what we love," defensive tackle Gerard Warren said.
The Broncos were 7-for-14 on third down, a bugaboo this season.
Plummer had another interception-free game despite the curious decision to start the game with the passing game before turning it over to Anderson and fellow running back Tatum Bell in a simplified two-back rotation.
The Broncos had scored on only one of its previous 23 possessions before its run of touchdowns.
"It does feel good to get into that kind of rhythm," Anderson said. "Because we get into that rhythm, then we're playing our ball."
The Chargers' upset prevented the weekend from being a complete success. The Chiefs had been tied with the Chargers for second in the division, but they lost 27-17 against the New York Giants on Saturday, relegating them to the wild-card race.
That has been the position the Broncos have been in the past several seasons. But this season, it can remove all doubt before the final weekend.
And for Wilson, that would be special, Pryce's words notwithstanding.
"I don't know any other division that's had the schedule that this division's had and still have the record that we have," Wilson said. "I think that says a lot."
Tie goes to . . .
If two teams in the same division finish with the same won-lost-tied percentages, the following steps will be taken until a champion is determined:
• 1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the teams).
• 2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played in the division.
• 3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
• 4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played in the conference.
• 5. Strength of victory.
• 6. Strength of schedule.
• 7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
• 8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
• 9. Best net points in common games.
• 10. Best net points in all games.
• 11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
|12-20-2005, 04:51 AM||#3|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Jul 2002
I just want them to win one at home for this old timer who's supposed to be past it but still plays with more heart, guts and all out force than most of his peers and is a man among boys.
You're still a righteous mofo Rod!
|12-20-2005, 11:45 AM||#5|
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Topeka, KS
|12-20-2005, 11:52 AM||#6|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Hermosa Beach
OS, how do you like my sig? Look familiar?
Last edited by The Big E; 12-20-2005 at 12:19 PM..