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Sundays with Sacco: Balancing euphoria

So ... are you still excited?

Me too.

Once in a while a team plays in a game like the Denver Broncos' Thursday night 31-24 victory at Kansas City, and if a team has some good fortune, you win the game.

The Broncos held on to score in the final seconds and seal the road win Thursday night over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Euphoria ensues, of such a type that lasts several days and produces the next best thing to giddiness.

But good fortune actually had little to do with the win.

Talking to Broncos coaches on Friday, one of them channeled the great, retired defensive coordinator Joe Collier, who used to say, "There is no luck. There is just preparation meeting opportunity."

I agree with Joe, but I would add that preparation and opportunity best meet when matched with the natural talent of a team.

The late Woody Hayes used to say about luck, "It is bad luck when you do not have great players."

Conversely, having a team of real good players, led by a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback, along with preparation and opportunity, is a sobering opponent.

So many random thoughts flash by in a game like this.

Please, folks, put those questions about Peyton Manning on the back burner, and then turn off the burner entirely. As I have often said, greatness is often best defined in the face of extreme adversity.

As a veteran coach once put it to me, "I am not sure what the question is, but the answer is Manning."

Indeed. He moved to 14-1 lifetime against Kansas City (including games played when he was at Indianapolis), and for good measure, reached 70,000 career passing yards.

This was in fact the 19th time Manning has engineered a comeback when trailing by 12 or more points, the most in pro football history (Dan Marino had 13, John Elway had 12, Steve Bartkowski had 11 and Tom Brady also has 11).

Kansas City has had a rough stretch with Broncos quarterbacks. Elway had more of his fabled comebacks against the Chiefs than any other team, then later became the team's general manager, as everyone knows.

Not only has Elway never lost in Kansas City as the Denver GM, but his quarterback has been a particularly tough customer for KC, as noted.

This was the first time ever that the Broncos trailed the Chiefs by 14 points in Kansas City and came back to win the game.

But it was not just about the quarterback, offensive line and receivers. Placekicker Brandon McManus connected on a 54-yard field goal that might have been good from a much greater distance.

McManus has the longest, second-longest and third-longest kicks in the NFL thus far in 2015, so special teams was a big factor in the win.

When you are down by 14 in a prime-time game on the road, the best way you can help the leading home team is to quit.

But the Broncos would not do that.

I spoke with linebacker Brandon Marshall Friday about how he and the whole team play hard on every play, not taking any plays off.

He said, "What if you took just one off, and it was 'that one,'" meaning the critical play on which Marshall forced the fumble that Bradley Roby returned for the game-winning touchdown.

It is a cliché, but the reason it is a cliché is because it is true. Take no plays off.

This defense gets after it like that one Denver had close to 40 years ago, the fabled Orange Crush of the late 1970's. Lots of talent, and lots of attitude.

These Bronco defenders are too young to have ever seen the Orange Crush play, but if they want to know what that unit looked like, they can just look in the mirror.

It was a terrific win, even by the illustrious standards of a seven-time Super Bowl franchise.

So, are you still excited?


Now, snap out of it, and move on emotionally.

Detroit is coming up in the Motor City, and last week's excitement is only as good as this week's preparation, with the hope that preparation and opportunity come together once again.

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