Thursday, January 28, 2016

The AFC Championship Game Experience

I have attended all seven AFC Championship games played in Denver - including the Broncos Sunday's thrilling 20-18 victory over the New England Patriots.  Here are some pictures of my experience.

That's me in the third row of the upper deck in the brown shirt behind the guy with the "7" Elway jersey.  My son Andrew in the Mile High football t-shirt is next to me.  Why didn't I wear orange?  The weather forecast called for temperatures in the lower 40's so I figured I'd be wearing a coat all day.  No one would see my shirt so why not wear a warm flannel one?  But when we arrived the temperatures felt like a September game.  The early 1 pm kickoff resulted in the sun shining on us for most of the 1st half.  By the second half the temperatures dropped to the upper 30's and the coats came on - not too cold and perfect January football weather.

Our seats, in the second deck in the northwest corner behind the end zone, would prove to be a perfect vantage point for the drama we would witness at the end of the game.  Every game I bring binoculars (to see plays near the south end zone) and a radio to listen to Dave Logan's KOA Radio play by play.

This Patriot fan was seated near us but he was relatively quiet during the game (wonder why?)  We saw a number of Patriot fans while walking to the stadium, but once inside we didn't see as many.  For the Pittsburgh playoff game the week before there were far more visiting fans.

The crowd gave a big cheer for the pregame skydivers landing on the field after jumping from high over Mile High.  The roar was a hint of how loud the stadium would get later that day.

The crowd noise rose during the player introductions - boos for the Patriots and cheers for the home team.

As shown on the scoreboard, 102.8 DBs (decibels) at kickoff!  The fans were really getting into it now.  It was the loudest I have heard the crowd at Sports Authority Field.  Not quite as loud as the old Mile High Stadium but plenty loud enough.  The noise would play a major factor in disrupting many a Patriots play this game.

Fast forward to the end of the game - Broncos win!  The last 6 minutes were the most intense I have ever experienced in my 50+ years of attending Denver home games, as the Patriots threatened to tie the score in the north end zone below us.  We were high fiving everyone around us as victory was assured in the last few seconds.

WIth our north end zone seats we also had a great viewing angle for the post game trophy ceremony.

Was this the greatest Bronco home game ever?  I still rate the first AFC Championship win (20-17) on January 1, 1978 as my favorite Bronco home game of all time (I was in the South Stands for that one).  But this sweet victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots is a close second - a nice bookend to that first AFC Championship game for my many years of cheering on the Broncos at the old and new Mile High.  Regardless of the outcome of the Super Bowl in two weeks, the memory of what happened here on January 24, 2016 will always bring a smile to my face.  Go Broncos!

1 comment:

  1. Nice pictures, wish I was still in Denver. I remember those days with Red Miller and the Orange Crush defense. Hope we have the same results as Super Bowl XXXII, Favre was the darling then, Elway was the "old man", and the Broncos were 14 pointy underdogs. Sound familiar?