Denver Broncos Miracle Grab: A Bungle in the Jungle

Chaz MattsonAnalyst ISeptember 14, 2009

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives the following definition for the word "bungle".


Etymoloy: perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Icelandic banga to hammer (1549 AD)

Intransive verb:  to act or work clumsily and awkwardly

Sunday’s game in Cincinnati brought to mind two quotes, and Brandon Stokley provided the inspiration for a third.  Still, there were more that reinforced some of the oddity that has been brewing of late in the Denver Broncos camp.  As the Broncos kicked off their 50th season of professional football, they ended their first game with a memorable play.   

The play brought about an evocation of thoughts and attitudes both past and present.

“The (Denver Broncos) were who we thought they were!  And we let ‘em off the hook!”– Denny Green

“You gotta make those miracles happen on your own.” – John Keyworth, Denver Broncos 1977

“We needed a miracle.”  -  Brandon Stokley, Denver Broncos 2009

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OK, so Denny Green was nowhere to be found, but his famous sports quote truly fit the mood and the mindset of what the Bengals faithful must have been thinking and feeling.  Critics of the Broncos organization may have had takes of a similar ilk, only now they have been put on hold.

Some bungling irony came across in a bungling way in Bengaltown—Cincy, USA on Sunday’s early autumn day.  The Denver Broncos had a miracle finish when they had to have it.

Considering how much controversy has surrounded the franchise since Mike Shanahan was dismissed at the end of last season.  This was just what the franchise needed to start believing in themselves and all of their offseason maneuvering. 

Give the triple covered Brandon Marshall credit; he took one for the team unexpectedly as Kyle Orton did his best to force a ball into tight coverage. 

To his credit, Orton’s courage or poor decision making was rewarded, as he never looked for another receiver in telegraphing his passing intentions.  Brandon Marshall was, for all intents and purposes, mugged on the play and became the sacrificial lamb that sprung an answer to the prayers of the Broncos faithful.

Cincinnati Bengals corner Leon Hall had a great jump on the ball Kyle Orton threw towards Brandon Marshall, only to make the dubious deflection instead of an interception.  On the play, both of the Bengal starting safeties eliminated Brandon Marshall with a big hit during the tipped ball that sprang Brandon Stokley’s 87-yard miracle touchdown scamper in the waning seconds.

The thing about minor miracles is that they bring hope in something greater than the moment, as amazing as it might be.  The hope being that something greater is possible at some point down the road.

That is really the reason coaches preach playing through the whistle on all levels of football, because you never know what might happen.

Since 1977, the Denver Broncos have been among the league’s most winning franchises.  It was that year when all this irony and miracle talk began.  The Denver Broncos were a struggling football franchise for the first 17 seasons of their existence.  They then hired a former New England Patriots coach to be the headmaster in Denver. 

Robert “Red” Miller would eventually land in the Super Bowl in his first year with the team.  Red helped to shape the original Orange Crush into becoming the league’s most dominant defense that year.  Red brought the Denver Broncos into respectability where they were once a laughing stock.  From that time on, the Broncos have always been respected league wide.

Ironically enough, Josh McDaniels had appeared to be taking the franchise into greater respectability by being aggressive in the free agent market shortly after he arrived in Denver from New England. 

Then things changed and appeared to go into a near immediate nose dive by trading the franchise quarterback Jay Cutler away to the Chicago Bears.  At that moment, it appeared as though the Broncos had gone from respectability back into being a laughing stock overnight.

It was almost as if the previous thirty years never happened.

To celebrate as much, the NFL decided to go old school on the Broncos and the old AFL teams by forcing them back into wearing their hideous Copper Bowl reject jerseys the team wore in their first two seasons for two games this season. 

The originals jerseys were so bad there was a public burning of the old duds.  Fans will now be able to soon see the Broncos retroactive laughingstock wear, vertical striped socks and all. 

Just what the Broncos franchise needed, more laughter heard around the league.

The Broncos reinforced the dubious inclinations in the preseason by posting a 1-3 mark, including a loss to Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears.

It’s all fairly interesting and somewhat ironic when you think about it.

The Broncos have now had two head coaches that have come to Denver from the New England Patriots.

Both of them won their season openers and both were low scoring affairs.

Red Miller’s Broncos beat the then St. Louis Cardinals 7-0 in his first game at old Mile High Stadium.

Josh McDaniel’s defense was up to the task against Carson Palmer and the Bengals for 55 of the games 60 minutes.  They had been pitching a shutout until the Bengals' last minute drive nearly cost the Broncos the game. 

No worries.  Following the play of the day in the NFL, the Broncos literally pulled victory out of the air of certain defeat and ignited the reason to believe in themselves for the rest of the season.  This all happened almost for spite and despite all the lack of head sense in the offseason.

Back in 1977, the Denver Broncos were so weak offensively they had to have their defense create opportunities for them to win and control games.

In the 2009 season opener, the Denver Broncos defense showed the promise most national prognosticators overlooked.  To the defense's credit, they took Carson Palmer and the Bengals out of their rhythm, time and time again, while causing problems over and over again.

Ironically enough, with how great the defense showed all game, the offense was predictably not as potent with Kyle Orton battling his recently dislocated index finger.  Regardless of the net results, Orton had a respectable day on the stat sheet going 17 for 28 and 243 yards with one miracle touchdown throw.

Make no mistake about it, the Broncos would have lost to a stronger opponent, and even the Cincinnati Bengals if not for the miracle grab on the run.  It truly was a minor miracle Brandon Stokley was able to pull off.

Almost just as surprising was how No. 14 had the presence of mind to take more time off the clock. With only seconds remaining, Stokley tight-roped horizontally next to the goal line to milk the clock for all the amazing touchdown play was worth, leaving the Bengal crowd silent in disarray. 

For now, the Broncos can start dreaming of even greater things this season, all because of this one play that suddenly kept the critics of Josh McDaniels at bay for at least another week or two.

The Broncos' organization has been thrown under the bus in the offseason for a number of personnel and public relations debacles this season.  So maybe there are no happier fans of Brandon Marhsall’s and Brandon Stokley’s at the moment than owner Pat Bowlen and Broncos executive Joe Ellis.

It might be time to resume those contract discussions with the Brandon’s and their agents sooner than later.

At the end of the day, this is professional football, so credit the team for showing up.  Brandon Marshall brought his professional game, and was heavily involved in the Broncos most unlikely miracle to fuel the fire.  Brandon Stokley showed his value by hustling and staying heads-up until the play was done.

Don’t over look this defensive effort either as the Broncos would have been out of this game early if they did not bring it in force.

The Broncos pressured and forced an otherwise sharp Carson Palmer into rushing his passes eventually leading to two costly interceptions.  The Bengals' offensive line yielded three sacks, as Palmer was harassed all game long with multiple pressure packages from the Broncos.

With as much drama as this franchise has been through this offseason, the fans and franchise alike should hearken back to a simpler time when winning was usually out of the question. 

Who knows how good this Broncos team will actually be this season?  This is the NFL, it should be a fun time for the fans, and they should revel in their team pulling off a miracle win on the road.

With shades of irony back 30 years in time there is the memory of signs and banners that used to be carted around the stadium to charge the fans.

Some of those large banners in the stands back in 1977 read something like:

“You Gotta Believe!”  and “Believe In Miracles!”

And then there was the classic banner with the win and loss tally.

“We Believe! 1-0”

Ironically enough, Champ Bailey when interviewed at the end of the game in the visitor’s locker room stated “You gotta believe in what you’re doing.”

“Now that’s bungle in the Jungle, Yeah that’s alright by me!” – Jethro Tull