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With Peyton Manning At the Controls — Will The Denver Broncos Defense Move Into 1977 Elite Status Once Again?

By Ritchie Toliver –  Perhaps the most under-appreciated but stunning  facet of the Denver Broncos wild and crazy 2011-2012 season -- for me — was not the fact that Tim Tebow again and again found magic in the waning minutes of games and delivered spectacular, come-from-behind, once-in-a-career –  dramatic wins that reached almost super-natural proportions — but the surprising fact that with virtually no help at all from the offense for the first 45 minutes of the game the defense had played stingy, stubborn, inspired, tireless, and opportunistically enough that the game was still in reach of Tebow’s heroics.

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The Bronco defense was un-sung and under-appreciated for the entire season — with most of the focus on the sluggish, plodding, un-inspired play of the offense — and as the season progressed — the inevitable suspense and excitement of anticipating when the “real” Tim Tebow would emerge from the slow-motion nightmare of the first three quarters and transform into the miracle phenom that America not only came to expect but revel in.

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But if you know football, and you watched carefully, what you saw was a stubborn, resilient, bone=jarringly dogged and tough defensive crew that never back up and never surrendered — fighting for every yard of turf, because they — like Tim Tebow crazies all over America — believed that at the given moment the “real” Tim Tebow would don his super hero cape and transform right before their eyes into the indomitable force that would not lose.  But game after game — thanklessly – tirelessly — they battled and scrapped and fought to hold their turf — until they could step back and let Tebow reign!

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Despite Tebow’s heroics, the fact remains. The most consistent, most determined, most consistent component of the Denver Broncos football team in 2011-2012 was the defense.  They made big plays when it counted.  They held their ground when they had to — or lose.  And it will the thrill of the 2012-2013 football season for Denver Bronco football fans when they see that bone-crushing, ferocious, attacking defense playing inspired football early in games with no fear of making a mistake and going down two-touchdowns to a quality opponent — and playing with ears laid back, reckless abandon and go-for-the-jugular late in games with a two touch-down lead — and Peyton Manning ready and waiting to strike like lightning should a blitzing gamble here or there result in an easy touch down for the other team.  It could be a more lethal combination — a more indomitable one-two punch than even seasoned NFL football pundits could have predicted.  Should be fun to watch unfold — sometime later this month, as a matter of fact.  Wow! It’s practically NFL Football Season already!