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At Least We Got There – by Zach Sheely

Colin D. | January 15, 2012

We’re looking forward to getting to know Zach Sheely on the South Stands Denver Fancast this coming Tuesday.  In the mean time, he has some some stuff about big losses he’d like to “blow out”.  

Follow Zach on Twitter @Zsheely, visit his blog at Vic and Gary web and be sure to hit his Funny or Die page

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“What is with the Broncos historic penchant for (being) obliterated in playoff games/Super Bowls?” I tweeted when the Denver Broncos defense allowed the NFL record tying sixth touchdown pass to Tom Brady during Saturday’s undressing of the Broncos by the Patriots.

It was one of the more thorough and complete losses we’ve seen in Colorado sports history. And we’ve seen a lot of them.

70-3, 7-0, 13-1, 55-10, 42-10 and now, of course, 45-10.

These are scores that should resonate with any Colorado sports fan. In a region where we take our sports way too seriously, our teams have been obliterated, humiliated and flat out embarrassed many a time on a playoff or championship-game stage.

To wit, the Colorado Buffaloes, beneficiaries of backing into the 2005 Big XII North Championship allowed 70 points to eventual national champion Texas – in three quarters – in the Big XII Championship game. The Rockies, gave us such a thrill in 2007, winning 21 of 22 to storm into the playoffs, only to crash back to earth in Game 1 of the World Series, allowing 16 Red Sox hits in a 13-1 loss at Fenway Park. Of course, the Sox would go on to sweep the series that was hardly competitive throughout. The Colorado Avalanche took President Cup winner, the Detroit Red Wings, to seven games in the 2002 Western Conference Finals, and could only watch as Patrick Roy gave up five goals as the Avs eventually went on to lose 7-0.

Then there are the Broncos, who know humiliation in big games all too well. Only the Rams of L.A. and St. Louis have compiled more playoff losses of 20+ points than the Broncos six, with eight. Saturday’s crushing loss to the Patriots ended a dream that Tim Tebow could actually take this rag-tag team of underachievers down Glory Road.

No one is better equipped to console Tebow than his boss, John Elway, himself on the wrong side of humiliation of historic proportions. In 45 Super Bowl games played, no score has been more lopsided than the 55-10 trouncing that the 49ers and Joe Montana delivered to Elway & co. in 1990.

Move over Cleveland and Buffalo, Denver deserves a spot on the most championship-starved list of cities. Short of a brief, albeit brilliant flash of championship dominance by the Broncos in the late ‘90s and the Avs cruising through the Western Conference into the early 2000s, this city’s trophy case is particularly bare. The Nuggets have never even played in the Finals. Of the 127 cumulative seasons the five Denver pro sports teams have been competing in in their respective leagues, five professional championships, two apiece by the Broncos and Avs and one by the Rapids, is not a lot to show for it.

This is a city that CRAVES a winner. We splash our team’s colors all over our government buildings. We affix our identity to our sports teams. We feel a particularly strong need to show loyalty to our teams as our city is slowly transcending into a transplant Mecca. That identity took another huge hit Saturday in Foxborough, Mass.

Fortunately, we’re also loyal. To a fault, some may argue. While Dan O’Dowd and the Monforts are busy cutting costs, three million fans whipped those turnstiles at Coors Field last year. Stan Kroenke may have forgotten that he even owns a hockey club. Joe Ellis and John Elway gave away Kyle Orton to save a measly (by NFL standards) $2.5 million, as fans packed the stadium that we built, to watch him come back to beat us.

While clubs in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Boston have been racking up the championships over the last decade, our teams have don’t have much to show for their efforts. A handful of playoff appearances aside, sports here have been irrelevant on a national level. That’s what made Tim Tebow’s “Mile High Magic” so much fun.

The Broncos were projected by pretty much every fan and analyst to dwell in the bottom of the standings at season’s start. A playoff win seemed impossible as they dropped to 1-4 in October.

Unlikely as it seemed, even as it happened, Tebow and his late game heroics made us believe there was a chance. The reality is that this team, like the other pro sports teams in Denver, is a LONG way from being able to compete for championships.

While Bill Belichick and his newly re-acquainted minion, the most reviled man in Colorado sports history, Josh McDaniels, were devising a game plan to whip the Broncos, coordinators Dennis Allen and Mike McCoy were entertaining job offers elsewhere. And it showed. The Broncos don’t exactly have the talent on defense to stop Tom Brady and his myriad of weapons, but they looked woefully unprepared.

Tim Tebow’s favorite quote is “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.” So when the not-as-talented don’t work as hard, the results are catastrophic.

This was a special season and will be remembered by many for a long time, but it ended in an all too familiar way, in humiliating fashion to a vastly superior team in a playoff game.

Thanks to Peyton Manning, Mike Lowell, Steve Yzerman, Joe Montana, Kobe Bryant, Doug Williams, etc. we’ve grown accustomed to it.

If Cubs fan’s mantra is “Wait ‘til next year”, fans in Denver should adopt, “At least we got there.”

Written by Colin D.


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