ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For Terrell Davis, the agonizing sting lingered long after the initial, shell-shocked walk off the field on that January evening.
What was at the time an incomprehensible 30-27 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1996 AFC Divisional Playoffs remained stuck at the front of Davis’ mind until the Broncos finally kicked off the 1997 regular season.
“I couldn’t (put it behind me),” Davis reflected at Broncos training camp on Friday. “It was right there. It was in our face.”
But for Davis, the haunting memories of that loss fanned the flames of redemption in the following season – which, of course, led to a few rather-celebrated triumphs in Broncos history.
“It was motivation,” Davis said. “I think sometimes it’s easy to say that it’s in the past. But these guys know it, they know it’s there. You don’t just dwell on it, but you use it as motivation and you know what happened to you the last year.”
The Broncos rebounded from the Jacksonville loss with a pair of Super Bowl victories in the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
Today, Davis reflects back on the original Jaguars loss as a catalyst for what happened the following season – and he says that the 2013 Broncos have the opportunity to respond similarly after their loss to the Ravens in the Divisional Playoffs last year.
“Going forward you say, ‘Hey, listen. If we ever get in that situation again, we’ve got to somehow find a sense of urgency that is beyond what we did last year,’” Davis said.
The Broncos’ Ring of Fame running back pointed out that the Broncos can learn from some of the mistakes that cost them in their 38-35 double-overtime loss to the Ravens, applying those lessons to move forward in 2013.
“(The Broncos) had about four-to-five minutes of bad football toward the end of the game that cost them, a lot,” Davis said. “It was like one decision after another after another. And so now you have to say, listen, if we ever get back into that situation, we’re going to do something different.”
“And that’s what we did.”
Davis noted that the burn of the Jacksonville loss finally began to subside once the Broncos took the field again for the 1997 regular season and began to reel off wins during a 12-4 campaign.
“Once the season started and we started winning games, then it was like it was in the back of our minds,” Davis said. “But during the playoff run, it sort of came back up.”
The Broncos and Jaguars met once again in the 1997 playoffs – and this time, Davis gashed Jacksonville for 184 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Broncos’ 42-17 victory in the Wild Card round.
Those Broncos went on to defeat Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Green Bay in the postseason – and the rest is history.
“We knew we were the better team,” Davis said. “We weren’t that day against Jacksonville, but we’d just tell ourselves that nobody could stop us if we don’t stop ourselves. And that’s the way we would play.”
Now, 16 years have passed and another Broncos squad sets forward with aspirations of redemption – and Davis said that the Broncos have the pieces to be contenders again.
“Look at what they did last year,” Davis said. “Here’s a team, 13-3, 11 straight. You’ve got (
Davis was quick to point out, however, that any success the Broncos have in 2013 will have to be earned on the field – just like his own Super Bowl squads.
“I was just talking to