“[This was] the best team that didn’t do anything,” admitted veteran cornerback Champ Bailey.
What exuded from the locker room during the Broncos 11-game winning streak, outside of the business-like mentality, was confidence. For how much they were aware of not getting caught up thinking past the next day, the next Sunday, they were equally attentive to the potential and true potency of this team.
“I had no visions of this thing stopping until the end of February,” tight end Joel Dreessen said, his future now uncertain and lacking confetti. “I don’t think anybody did.”
The Broncos were favorites to go to the Super Bowl, everyone knew, they were supposed to win.
“It’s frustrating, but that’s the reality of it,” Bailey continued. “We got to the playoffs, but you’ve got to win in the playoffs for it to mean something. It’ll be just another year we came up short.”
But it was far from just another season, another disappointment.
The Broncos headlined from start to finish; they were the team to watch, if not yet the team to watch-out-for during the beginning of training camp. A slow start only humanized the Broncos before Manning and Denver then came to life in an inspired second half in San Diego. A show of force as much as it was of skill, stringing together dominant wins over lesser opponents, surrendered the Broncos to praise and promise.
Then it imploded, in a stark abruptness, ceasing to exist.
“It is just that all season it took a lot to get to this point,” linebacker Von Miller, stunned, sat at his locker, head in his hands Saturday before speaking to the media. “To walk away from it on that note, I can’t even put it into words. It is devastating.”
This fairy tale has no happy ending; the final pages were torn out.
“I think this town, this city and everybody in this locker room, the ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl. We had no doubt in our mind that’s where we were headed,” admitted defensive lineman Justin Bannan. “I think everyone is in a state of shock.”