The 2012 Denver Broncos are comeback kids.
Denver is flying a Rocky Mountain High, with a 10-game winning streak under their belt, they’re in line for a first round bye and home-field advantage in the coming playoffs. In fact, the Broncos are now the favorites to win the Super Bowl according to vegasinsider.com, while many national media outlets are putting them atop their respective power rankings.
But how that win streak started was magical in its own right.
Way back in Week Six, Denver flew to San Diego for a matchup between the two best in the AFC West. The Chargers actually led the division by a game and everyone knew the Monday Night contest would help determine the outcome of the West. San Diego started out on fire, capitalizing on Broncos mistakes, jumping out to a 24-0 lead at halftime. But Denver didn’t waiver; Peyton Manning led scoring drives and the defense not only forced turnovers but scored themselves as the Broncos scored 35 straight points to win 35-24.
It should go down as the greatest comeback—if not best game—of the 2012 season.
Of course, it’s ironic that Manning—who’s one of two players in line to win Comeback Player of the Year—is the one at the reins of the Broncos. Manning missed an entire year, undergoing four neck surgeries and has come back to perform at nearly the highest level he ever has. The 15-year veteran has led in Quarterback Rating all season long, and he’s currently fourth in passer rating while also being in the top four in touchdowns (34), completion percentage (68.1) and yards per attempt (7.86).
What Manning has done in Denver is nothing short of miraculous; he turned the No. 1 rushing team into a pass-first offense, instituted his intricate offense, taught teammates every step of the way—even during games—and has given them the confidence to reach for greatness.
Two other times this season he led comebacks, against the Steelers in Week One and over the Bengals in early November; his teammates know their squad is never out of any game.
And as a franchise, the Denver Broncos have come back as well.
Only two years ago they were the laughing stock of the NFL, finishing with a franchise-worst 12 losses, and this season they are arguably the best team in all of football. Much of the credit it due to John Elway and coaches John Fox and Jack Del Rio, though, it’s the players on the field winning the games.
Exactly how far these Broncos can go into the playoffs remains to be seen, but no one is questioning that these comeback kids are the team to beat.
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Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. You can follow Rich on twitter or facebook for all you Denver Broncos news and opinion.