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Mile High Morning: How Denver's last game in Chicago proved pivotal on road to Super Bowl 50 title

The Lead

On Sunday, the Broncos will play the Chicago Bears with the opportunity to secure a crucial first win of 2023 on the line. The game will mark the first time the teams have played against each other at the Bears' Soldier Field since 2015, when the Broncos secured a 17-15 win.

Denver's win in freezing temperatures proved to be an important victory in its run to the franchise's third Super Bowl title, sparking a 5-2 finish to the regular season and establishing the Broncos' defense as one of the elite units in the game.

The Broncos entered the game with a 7-2 mark, but they were also without future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning for the first time since he joined Denver in 2012. As Manning rehabbed from a foot injury, former second-round pick Brock Osweiler made his first career start in Chicago.

Osweiler would go on to post a 5-2 mark as a starter, but perhaps his best performance came in his first start. The Arizona State product finished 20-of-27 for 250 yards, two touchdowns and a 127.1 quarterback rating. Osweiler's 48-yard touchdown strike to Demaryius Thomas opened the scoring less than three minutes into regulation, while running back Ronnie Hillman established the run game with 102 yards on 21 carries.

Chicago closed its deficit to 10-9 just before the end of the third quarter thanks to kicker Robbie Gould's third field goal and had an opportunity to tie the score at 17 with 24 seconds left. Instead, Denver's defense held its ground on the two-point conversion, stuffing Bears running back Jeremy Langford to preserve its 17-15 advantage.

A week after facing serious adversity with Manning's injury, the Broncos demonstrated their resilience with a road win and their late goal-line stand and improved to 8-2. Osweiler won AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts in his first regular-season start and kicked off an impressive streak — including two overtime victories — that would help secure the first-overall seed that proved critical in Denver's playoff run.

Less than three months later, the Broncos capped off their 2015 season with a 24-10 win in Super Bowl 50.

The Unclassifieds

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