2005 Denver Broncos: Snake Bitten
The Broncos lived by "The Snake" and died by "The Snake" during the 2005-06 season.
That snake was quarterback Jake Plummer.
When Plummer signed before the 2003 season as a free agent, many fans, including myself, were worried and confused. Plummer was always known as a guy who could make an amazing play but also be a complete bonehead the next one.
All Bronco fans remember the right-handed quarterback trying to throw with his left hand.
The Broncos made the playoffs in each of Plummer's first two seasons. The results in the playoffs were not good as both resulted in blowouts at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts in the wild-card round.
2005, on the other hand, was a different year for Plummer (not just because of his new "Unabomber" look) and the Denver Broncos as a whole.
The Broncos rode into the 2005 season with not a lot of exceptions. The Chargers, as they have been for a while now, were the picked to win the division. The Chiefs and even the Raiders were also getting picked.
The Broncos were heading towards a 7-9 season many critics thought.
The team looked to be proving the critics right after getting beat in Miami 34-10. This team became a favorite for what happened the next 15 games.
Led by Plummer, a balanced running attack with Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell, the savvy leadership of wide receiver Rod Smith, and a ball-hawking cornerback in Champ Bailey, the Broncos won 13 of the last 15 games.
The two losses were by a combined five points.
Plummer was a different player. He become controlled, smart, and a leader on the team. Coach Mike Shanahan seemed to have corralled "The Snake."
"The Snake" completed almost 61 percent of his passes, threw 18 touchdowns, and only had seven interceptions.
The offense was good through the air and on the ground. Plummer threw for 3,366 yards, Anderson ran for 1,014, and Bell had 921.
The defense was pretty tough as well.
Bailey showed why he was worth trading away All-Pro running back Clinton Portis to the Washington Redskins. He had eight interceptions and 60 tackles. The corner was all over the field and returned two of those interceptions for touchdowns.
The team had only 27 sacks but they pressured the quarterback. Safety John Lynch was one of three players with four sacks.
This great regular season resulted in a 13-3 record, the No. 2 seed in the AFC behind the Colts, a first-round bye, and a home playoff game.
That Saturday night in January, the Broncos put a one in the loss column of Tom Brady's playoff record.
Plummer was controlled and efficient in the 27-13 win. He threw for 197 yards and a touchdown, but Plummer did not make the play of the game.
With the Broncos clinging to a 10-6 lead, Bailey picked off a pass in the end zone as the Patriots were looking for the go-ahead score. He returned it 100 yards to the Patriots one yard line.
Anderson scored on the next play to make it 17-6 and the Broncos never trailed in the victory.
The next day the Steelers stunned the No. 1 seed Colts in Indianapolis, setting up the AFC Championship between Pittsburgh and Denver at Invesco Field.
Bronco fans had an easy win and a trip to the Super Bowl on their mind.
But we were snake bitten.
Plummer fumbled once and threw two picks in a Steelers' 34-17 win. The quarterback seemed to revert back to his old unreliable self.
Although Plummer took a lot of the blame, he was not the only one at fault. There was no running game and the defense could not get Ben Roesthlisberger off the field.
The Steelers controlled the whole game.
Plummer went on to play one more season with the Broncos but was replaced 11 games in by now departed rookie Jay Cutler.
That season was a complete roller-coaster ride. It did not end the way fans wanted it to but it was still one of the best Denver Broncos teams.
From their quarterback's "Unabomber" beard to their star cornerback picking off passes effortlessly, this Bronco team should be remembered as a fan favorite.
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