DENVER - How do they do it?
The Denver Broncos just have something different; they have something that nobody else has. They had it last season on their way to a Super Bowl Championship and on Thursday night, in the NFL season opener, they showed the word that not a thing has changed.
As 76,843 fans—clad almost exclusively in orange—looked on, 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton needed just 20 to 30 yards in three minutes to set his team up for a potential game-winning field goal; there was an aura of confidence in the air. Even the fans knew the team would find a way to get it done.
But as Newton chipped and chipped and chipped away at the yardage, the semblance of doubt began to grow. Then, as officials upheld a ruling that put the Panthers on the 33-yard line, the worry in the stands was real.
"That's it," one fan said from the first row.
Graham Gano waltzed out on the field, took his pre-kick routine and blasted a 50-yard field goal through the uprights with ease. But it wasn't over yet. No, it's never over with these Denver Broncos. Of course, Gary Kubiak had called a timeout.
For a moment, T.J. Ward felt the same doubt in the hearts of Broncos Country.
"The first one he made really easily, so I was nervous," he admitted, shaking his head.
But if this were the 2015 Broncos, the team of destiny, you would have known exactly what was going to happen next.
Gano hit a ball so far left that the South Stands at Mile High erupted long before it was officially waved "no good" by the officials underneath the goal posts, the Denver Broncos victorious, 21-20. Maybe that destiny, that Mile High Magic hasn't left the thin Rocky Mountain air after all.
How do they do it?
"It's not magic, man," Chris Harris Jr. corrected. "We've got heart; we have more heart than other teams. It's plain and simple."
Or maybe it was Jedi Mind Tricks?
"We got mind control over them," Aqib Talib belted out in the locker room. "Report that."
"He was scared," added Shane Ray of Gano. "We got mind control over him."
T.J. Ward offered a plethora or reasons.
"Our competitiveness, our work ethic, our drive, our want to win, our will to win, our will to succeed," he said. "We have all that in almost every guy on this team, and that's hard to beat."
When it comes down to it, no matter how much they talked about "New team. New game. New season," when push came to shove, the Denver Broncos had been there before, they used the mentality born in 2015 to win on Thursday night.
"Oh, absolutely," Darian Stewart said of if the team talked about how many times they've been in that situation. "That's what we were saying in the huddle, man. We prepare for these type of moments; we have the vets in the room to get this stuff done. You know, shoot, that's just part of us, man. That's Broncos 'D.' "We just have a special group, man."
How do they do it? Maybe Derek Wolfe said it best. . . He definitely said it with the most conviction.
"We just fight, we don't know how to quit," he explained. "You know what I mean? If somebody brings a fight to us, we're going to fight to the end, and like I said we just don't know how to quit, we don't give up no matter what. We're going to scratch and claw and draw a line in the sand and say, 'you aren't getting past this line, and we will die before we let you across that line. That's just the way we are; that's our mentality."
"It's called DEFWU, 'Don't ever f*** with us,'" Wolfe concluded of just what it is with this team. "We aren't going to go looking for a fight, but if you want a fight, we're gonna fight you."