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Broncos Championship Stories: The quarterbacks

Posted Feb 11, 2016

Every player's path to the Super Bowl is different and has its own meaning. Starting with the quarterbacks, we're compiling how each player got to this point and what it means.

As Head Coach Gary Kubiak reiterated throughout the regular season and postseason, the Broncos' path necessitated contributions from the entire roster. With that in mind, we begin this series detailing the paths of each player to the team's Super Bowl 50 triumph.

Peyton Manning

Much of how the season went seemed to foreshadow the Broncos' ultimate destiny, but it was nothing short of serendipitous that Manning, who has made history in his No. 18 uniform, won the Super Bowl in his 18th NFL season.

His route to Super Bowl 50 in Denver was paved with a blazing passing attack in the previous three years that torched record books, but in this past season the new coaching staff changed the offensive system to become more balanced. It still had some of the same elements that Manning had been so adept at utilizing, like those we saw on up-tempo drives in Kansas City when he led the Broncos to three touchdowns en route to an electrifying win over the Chiefs in Week 2.

But for the most part, the offense was shaping up to become more grinding in nature. Manning helped the Broncos reach a 7-0 start and took over the NFL's all-time passing yardage record, but a torn plantar fascia felled him for a seven-week stretch from the third quarter of Week 10 against the Chiefs to the third quarter of Week 17 against the Chargers.

Manning's return was humble one, but it sparked the Broncos to clinch the AFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. A more cautious Manning avoided turning the ball over at the rate that plagued him before his foot injury, and with a dominant defense, Manning helped the offense stay composed and keep defenses on their heels.

In the Super Bowl, the Panthers defense forced Manning into a difficult game, but with a defensive touchdown helping put Denver up early, the future Hall of Famer did enough to keep the game in the Broncos' hands until the clock ran out.

Manning's arrival in Denver four years ago brought a great opportunity at a Super Bowl for him and the franchise. For Manning, it was a chance to prove he still had greatness left in him after the Colts released him in 2012, and with a championship in two Super Bowl appearances, he left an indelible imprint on the franchise and city.

With a second Lombardi Trophy on his resume, Manning became the first player to ever quarterback two different teams to a Super Bowl title, and his career accolades put him in an echelon that few players in football history can touch.

Brock Osweiler

Were it not for Brock Osweiler leading the Broncos to a 4-2 record in games he started and finished while Manning recovered from his foot injury, the Broncos' season might not have ended in Super Bowl greatness.

Osweiler, who waited and learned for four years, moved into the starting lineup in Week 11 and began his seven-game stint with a road win. In the following week, the young quarterback helped lead a fourth-quarter comeback from a 21-7 deficit against the Patriots. That overtime win ended New England's undefeated start and kept Osweiler's going. After consecutive losses to the Raiders and Steelers highlighted the Jekyll-and-Hyde offensive woes, Osweiler again helped get the offense back into the flow against a playoff team in a comeback situation, bringing the Broncos back from a 14-0 deficit for an overtime win over Cincinnati.

Osweiler's time in the limelight ended in Week 17 when Kubiak looked back to Manning for a spark against San Diego, but without Osweiler playing as well as he did, the Broncos might not have had a chance to secure a fifth straight division title and home-field advantage.

Trevor Siemian

Siemian's contributions to the Broncos' season on the field were limited to a kneel-down to run out the clock before halftime against Pittsburgh, but his own personal path is one to note, too.

His final season at Northwestern was cut short because of a torn ACL, but Kubiak and Quarterbacks Coach Greg Knapp noticed Siemian anyway and ran him through some workouts during the draft process and decided to select him in the seventh round.

In his extensive preseason work, Siemian impressed with game-winning fourth-quarter drives in two of his three appearances. He learned quickly on his feet, had great poise and delivered in those moments against Seattle and Houston. Ultimately, that earned him a spot on the 53-man active roster for the entire season.

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