Broncos hardly the first to face a QB quandary in playoffs
DENVER (AP) Peyton Manning or Brock Osweiler?
Well, the Broncos settled on Manning.
Certainly, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak could've justified placing either quarterback in the starting lineup. And if Denver loses next Sunday, then certainly, Kubiak's choice will be second-guessed.
''I don't think that way,'' Kubiak said. ''I'm going in real positive.''
He is hardly the first coach, and Denver is hardly the first team, forced to smooth out an unsettled quarterback situation in the postseason.
Here's a look at some of the more memorable decisions:
BRADY VS. BLEDSOE: In the second game of the 2001 season, Tom Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe when Bledsoe sustained a chest injury. Brady went on to post an 11-3 record as the starter. But after Brady sprained his ankle in the AFC title game against Pittsburgh, Bledsoe, he of the then-record-setting $103 million contract, came off the bench and led the Patriots to the Super Bowl. Coach Bill Belichick waited until the following Wednesday (there was no extra week off before the Super Bowl that year) to announce Brady as his starter. ''It's something I probably expected, to be honest with you,'' Bledsoe said. Brady won both his first ring and Super Bowl MVP honor with a 20-17 upset over the St. Louis Rams.
JOHNSON VS. FLUTIE: Doug Flutie took over for injured Rob Johnson in the fifth game of the 1999 season for Buffalo. He led the Bills to a 10-5 record and a playoff spot heading into the final game of the regular season, which meant nothing to Buffalo. Coach Wade Phillips (now Denver's defensive coordinator) decided to give the now-healthy Johnson the start, and the quarterback responded with a 287-yard performance in a 31-6 victory over the Colts. Surprising almost everyone, Phillips decided to go with Johnson for the playoffs. He went 10 for 22 in a 22-16 loss to the Titans, but the remnants of the QB debacle were overshadowed by what's remembered as the Music City Miracle - the lateral from Frank Wycheck to Kevin Dyson for the winning score on the kickoff after Buffalo had taken the lead with 16 seconds left.
FLUTIE VS. TOMCZAK: Granted, the Bears best QB, Jim McMahon, was out with an injury and Mike Ditka was picking between backups. To this day, though, many Bears from the 1986 team - the team that opened at home against Washington in the NFC playoffs the year after the Super Bowl win - blame Ditka for choosing Flutie, whom the Bears signed in December, over Mike Tomczak for the playoffs. Making only his second NFL start, Flutie went 11 for 31 with two interceptions in a 27-13 loss.
YOUNG VS. MONTANA: Most football people view this as the biggest quarterback controversy of all time, and it did have a playoff element to it, though it certainly was nothing more than a sidelight. Montana already had four Super Bowl rings and had spent 1991 and most of 1992 on the sideline with an elbow injury. Montana was healthy for the regular-season finale against Detroit, and coach George Seifert let him relieve Young, who had led the Niners to 13-2 and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Montana threw for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to help the Niners pull away. Though Seifert never had any doubt that Young was his man in the playoffs, the quarterback's lackluster performances - 227 yards, three fumbles and a pick in a win over Washington, then two fourth-quarter interceptions in a 30-20 loss for Dallas - left room for second-guessing and paved Montana's way out of San Fran and over to Kansas City.
VAN BROCKLIN VS. WATERFIELD: A first-of-its-kind, and maybe the only time it worked. Throughout 1950 and 1951, Rams coach Joe Stydahar made a practice of alternating his two talented quarterbacks, Norm Van Brocklin and Bob Waterfield, every quarter. It was widely documented in Los Angeles, and though the absurdity of the situation didn't escape anyone, in this case, it worked. The Rams went 18-8 over the two seasons, led the league by a wide margin in passing both years, went to the title game twice and won it in 1951 with Waterfield throwing for 125 yards and Van Brocklin for 128.