Turning Point: The Moment the Denver Broncos Forever Changed

Mike WasowskiCorrespondent IAugust 3, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 14:  Dwayne Bowe #82 of the Kansas City Chiefs loses the ball on an onside kick during the final minute of the game in a 22-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers on December 14, 2008 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Eighteen months ago, the Denver Broncos could legitimately make the claim that they had the second best offense in all of football. With third year quarterback Jay Cutler at the helm, and Brandon Marshall as his favorite target, along with the then best offensive line in football, the offense was certainly a treat to watch, at times seemingly scoring at will. If they could only put together a decent defense, one gets chills thinking about what could have been. Fast forward a year and a half. The starting Quarterback (for the moment) is stop-gap Kyle Orton, and fourth year Brady Quinn and rookie Tim Tebow both have a legitimate shot of jumping Orton for the job before training camp even ends. Cutler is a Bear, Marshall is a Dolphin, and many other members of that prolific offense are gone.

            So, when it’s all said and done, for better or worse, when history looks back at what became of the Denver Broncos after the 2008 season, where will they point to? Where will they look and say, “There it is. That’s the moment that forever changed Broncos history.” And they will review the 2008 season over and over. Finally, they will find it.

            On December 14th, 2008, Before the Broncos even took the field against the Carolina Panthers, Their fate was sealed. Nearly 800 miles away, the first domino fell in what would ultimately be the worst collapse in NFL history. We’re talking 2007 Mets bad. So what happened? What was it that forever altered Broncos History?

            Dwayne Bowe happened. That’s right, the Kansas City Chiefs receiver. In a game the Broncos had no control over, The Chiefs were leading rival San Diego 21-16 with 1:13 to play and the Chargers attempted an onside kick. Dwayne Bowe appeared to have it easy, but the ball just bounced off his chest. The Chargers recovered and drove down the field to win the game. Had Dwayne Bowe hung on to that ball, the Chiefs would have run out the clock, the Chargers would have officially been eliminated from the playoffs, and who knows where the Broncos would be today. It was that Domino that led to the Broncos not winning a single game the rest of the season, resulting in the firing of head coach Mike Shanahan and the departures of Cutler, Marshall, Scheffler, and Hillis.

            Now I’m not saying that Mike Shanahan was fired because of Dwayne Bowe. By all means the Broncos should have been able to win at least one game to render their end of the season match with San Diego meaningless, and it’s not Bowe’s fault that Cutler threw a game losing interception from only five yards out to lose to the dog butt Bills. It is just very interesting to look back and see that had Bowe hung on to that ball, things would be very different in Denver.

            So five years from now, when the Broncos are either irrelevant or a dynasty, you, the fan, should either curse Dwayne Bowe, or thank him. Personally, I believe we’ll be doing the latter.