SPORTS WATCH | John Fox’s Halftime Speech Must Have Been Special
by Gus Jarvis
Oct 18, 2012 | 1108 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Former Bronco receiver turned KOA radio color analyst Ed McCaffrey called Monday night’s historic Bronco come-from-behind victory over the Chargers a tale of two halves. The Broncos’ first half was as horrible and depressing as any half of football could be – until you saw the dastardly play of the San Diego Chargers in the second half.

San Diego certainly beat out the Broncos in playing what’s perhaps the worst half of football in recent memory. So, yes, “Easy” Ed McCaffrey, it was a tale of two halves.

But I’d like to take a different angle on that cliché and call the game a tale of two halftime speeches.

The second-half performance of the Broncos, both offensively and defensively, was one for the ages. To come back from a 24-point deficit and score 35 unanswered points in the second half to win the game is the stuff John Elway lore is made of. What I want to know is what in the hell Broncos head coach John Fox said in the locker room during the halftime intermission. (And if we can get a transcript of what was said, can we send that on over to the Obama camp before the next debate?)

Really, what was said? Fox said after the game that he could see it in the team’s eyes that they knew they had it in them to mount such a comeback, but how did he spark that comeback? Before the second half even got underway, there was a difference in the way the Broncos carried themselves. Their body language was different. You could tell they were finally ready to play down-and-dirty defense as well as offense with a sense of urgency.

Without stupidly turning the ball over on punt and kick returns, the Broncos, in the second half, actually gave Peyton Manning an opportunity to work his magic. And work his magic he did. He went 13 of 14 for 167 yards in the second half and three, count them three, touchdown passes.

The defense was no less impressive than Manning and his offense in the second half. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was intercepted four times and lost two fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Elvis Dumervil. The defense undoubtedly was a big part of the comeback.

All told, Denver’s comeback tied for the fourth-biggest regular-season comeback in NFL history – and it was the largest comeback in Monday Night Football history. For any one of the millions of viewers watching the game that evening, it will certainly be one of those games you remember, and it may go down in history as the game where Manning christened the start of a championship career as a Denver Bronco. Who knows? It could happen.

It has to be great for Manning and the rest of the team make such a comeback together. In the Broncos’ three previous losses, they have proved they can make a fight all the way to the end of the game, but they haven’t proved they can actually make a comeback and win the game.

After Monday, the defense and the offense know for sure that if they have each other’s backs when the going gets tough, anything is possible. This victory galvanized the team.

I still can’t get over what changed in the locker room at halftime. Yes, a lot of Denver’s woes in the first half were due to its inability to catch or field punts and kickoffs. Manning wasn’t able to even get on the field to take charge of the game, and when he gave up an interception, I think we all wondered if it was going to be that kind of night, where nothing goes right. Eric Decker’s tripping over himself on the sprint to an easy touchdown seemed like proof that the Monday night football game in San Diego would be one Bronco fans would soon want to forget about.

Well, I hope whatever coach Fox said in the locker room at halftime the won’t soon be forgotten. And maybe it wasn’t Fox who fired the team up at halftime, but whoever did it deserves the game’s MVP award. Of course, when posed with the question about just what was said, after the game, Fox brushed it off like nothing special really happened.

Fox told the Associated Press that there “were no mystery words of wisdom given at halftime. Given how poorly we played in the first half,” he said, “we just said we could play better in the second half, and we broke out of it.”

Part of me doesn’t believe him at all. Something happened in that locker room. Did Lance Armstrong show up for a pep talk? (OK, bad joke.) Another part of me doesn’t want to believe that nothing special happened in the locker room, because I’d like to use whatever motivation tool was used prior to the beginning of the next Bronco game. Why can’t John Fox motivate his team before games the way he does at half time?

As a team, the Broncos have all the talent in the world to beat any other team in the NFL. We saw that on Monday night. Thirty-five points in the second half against a rival opponent on their field? That’s as tough as it gets in the NFL. And it’s not like they were playing the Cleveland Browns, either. San Diego isn’t that bad of a team. Yes, Philip Rivers is a douche but that frontline of the defense is one to be reckoned with. And I think that’s the wisdom the  fans and John Fox need to take away from that Monday night miracle comeback: The Broncos have it in them to beat anyone, but can John Fox find a way to bring that team onto the field, week in and week out, is the real question.

If John Fox can’t find a way to bring the Broncos team we saw in the second half of Monday night’s game onto the field throughout the rest of the season, the blame will fall on one man. And that man is John Fox.

I know what you are thinking. Is this crackhead columnist prematurely calling for John Fox’s head if the Broncos don’t succeed this year? In short, yes. We have all seen what the Broncos can do now. The pieces of the puzzle are in place. They can play and they can play damn well. But if we get another one of those games full of fumbles, interceptions, trash penalties and blown coverage, we now know it’s not the team’s talent that’s the problem; it’s John Fox’s ability to motivate and prepare his team to win.

I hope Fox remembers whatever the hell he did or said in that halftime locker room. Denver is going to need that motivation again.

Twitter: @gusgusj

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