Denver, CO – 2011 will always be remembered by Denver Broncos fans as the year of Tebow. Whether or not you are a Broncos fan, we all recall the unbelievable season it turned out to be. After a 1-4 start, Tim Tebow was inserted into the starting lineup and craziness then ensued. Comeback win after comeback win seemed to occur on an almost weekly basis, and the Denver Broncos miraculously finished 8-8 and made the playoffs. The madness was not done then. It continued in early January against the Pittsburgh Steelers, as Denver shocked the world, its fans, and even themselves with a stunning victory on their first offensive play in overtime. It took Tom Brady and his 6 TD’s the following week to put an end to “Tebow-Mania” for good, but it was a great ride for all Denver Broncos fans while it lasted. Last season was a perfect example of how sports has the ability to captivate people from time to time and make believers out of non-believers. What happened here in Denver was unexplainable at times. On a nationwide basis, the guy who got most of the credit was definitely Tim Tebow. It was, and still is, argued by many about whether or not he was the main man responsible for the success of the 2011 season. “Tebow-haters” point out how the rest of the team stepped up, as the running game, receivers, and defense played remarkably well the second half of the year. But to me, there are two guys who still do not get the credit that they deserve for last year. They don’t play offense, and they don’t play defense. They don’t throw the ball, run with the ball, or catch the ball. But trust me, without them, 2011 would not have transpired the way that it did.
Remember the bizarre finish at home versus the Chicago Bears? How about knocking off the Jets on that Thursday night in November? Or how about the huge road win at San Diego? These are just a few examples of the craziness that captured Denver and the nation last fall. Yes, the offense and defense both made some crucial plays down the stretch in several games. But it was the Denver Broncos kicker, Matt Prater, who was called on many times to nail a long field goal in hairy situations. Boy, did he deliver, as they hardly ever seemed to be short kicks. To beat Chicago in mid-December, he had to make two 50+ yarders to knock off the Bears. No problem. At San Diego, he also delivered with a field goal in overtime. At Minnesota, Prater was called upon twice in the final two minutes to defeat the Vikings. He came through in every big situation, and has truly laid claim to being called “Money Matt”. Just an FYI, he currently holds the NFL record for best conversion rate beyond 50 yards (12/16, 75%). He is only 27 years old, and just signed a brand new 4 year deal to remain a Denver Bronco. Broncos fans, say hello to our kicker for many years to come.
Plenty of average fans have no idea who the punter is for their favorite team. Unless, of course, he shanks a 12 yarder out of bounds in a tie game with 2 minutes left. But that never seemed to happen in big situations last year. Britton Colquitt, for anyone who doesn’t know, is the Denver Broncos punter. And he may still be somewhat unknown, even by die hard Broncos fans, because he never had that bad moment in the clutch last year. Instead, he had a truly fantastic season. Colquitt averaged 47.4 yards per punt, which landed him in the top 10. But even more importantly, he was 2nd in the entire NFL in pinning opposing teams inside their own 20 yard line. Like Prater, Colquitt is only 27 years old. If he produces like that again in 2012, plan on him sticking around in the orange and blue for many years to come as well.
Special teams, as many football fans know, is a critical part of the game. When you have players who excel in those roles, it makes every other part of the game that much easier for the rest of the team. On the flip side, when your team struggles to make field goals or nail long punts, it can be a glaring deficiency that prohibits your team from truly being successful. Here in Denver, it seems like we have found a couple guys in Matt Prater and Britton Colquitt who could be two of the very best at their respective positions. For new QB Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos to achieve their lofty goals in 2012, the special teams will need to continue to be very special.
Denver Sports by J Simp