Maybe Josh McDaniels was sandbagging the world.
A month ago, there were few who genuinely believed that the Broncos would be a solid team in McDaniels’ first year as head coach. He had traded quarterback Jay Cutler. And McDaniels had bungled, by all appearances, a standoff with receiver Brandon Marshall. And McDaniels, when meeting with the media, fidgeted more than a third-base coach trying to pass signals to the batter.
Today, the Broncos are among the top teams in the NFL. The Broncos and the Colts are the only two undefeated teams in the AFC, the Indy could still drop to 4-1 tonight at Nashville. (On NBC.)
With so many wondering about McDaniels’ Broncos, “Are they for real?”, the team turned the punctuation on that sentence into an exclamation point, beating the Patriots in overtime at Mile High Stadium, 20-17.
Jim Nantz of CBS pointed out in the closing seconds that Denver and New England (actually, Boston) met in the first ever AFL game, and that the Broncos won that one. Also by three points.
After the game, McDaniels was as excited as any coach we’ve ever seen. In a season that has featured first-year Jets coach Rex Ryan acting like Captain Lou Albano, McDaniels made like Hulk Hogan, moving alone toward one end of the stadium and firing up an already fully raucous crowd.
At one point, I thought he might tear off his hoodie.
Meanwhile, McDaniels’ mentor, New England coach Bill Belichick, who eschewed the hoodie in favor of George Costanza’s Gore-tex coat, searched in vain for his former colleague in the hopes of giving him a reverse-Mangini embrace.
They very well might have another chance at a post-game hug in January; these two teams seem destined to meet again.