With the postseason set to begin Saturday, current records will go out the window for each of the 12 teams that are still alive in the NFL’s win-or-go-home playoffs. Every play will take on greater importance, which means that each step in the preparation process takes on added meaning.
“You hear that it’s faster, you hear that it’s more intense,” safety
A year ago, the Broncos experienced both the highs and lows of playing in games with such high stakes. The team won an overtime thriller against Pittsburgh on an unforgettable overtime touchdown catch by wide receiver
“(We) didn’t play anywhere up to par last year when we went to New England,” Bruton said. “This year will definitely be different. We’ll come out there and perform. We realize that there’s a lot at stake. We can’t be No. 1 and go out so early. We want to be No. 1 throughout the whole thing and finish No. 1. The whole thing is to finish. Being No. 1 in the playoffs is nowhere near enough, and everybody realizes that.”
The memory of those experiences has the Broncos well aware of what is on the line, especially considering how many players around the league will be sitting at home wishing they were a part of the action.
“It’s really special,” tight end
Though the team won’t begin its playoff run until Saturday, Jan. 12, it has already begun preparing for whichever team it draws. In addition to picking up familiarity with the Ravens, Colts and Bengals, the three potential opponents in the Divisional Round, the Broncos are focusing on their own play as they prepare for their biggest game of the season. And they’re doing so as if their playoff lives depend on it.
“It goes up even more,” defensive tackle
One Broncos player with a great deal of postseason experience is quarterback
“I talk about the different seasons, there’s kind of offseason, preseason, regular season and the postseason,” Manning said. “There’s nothing quite like playoff football in my opinion.”