At the end of most of Denver's successful seasons, the entire team has endured criticism because of its poor performances in the Super Bowl.
Steve Sewell is afraid this time, the critics will only point at him.With the Broncos having an unexpected chance to pull out what would have been yet another amazing victory, Sewell fumbled away Denver's final hope. So he felt little consolation that he and his teammates played the Buffalo Bills much closer than most had expected in Sunday's AFC championship game.
"It's terribly disappointing," said Sewell. "I know that a lot of people all over the world probably hate me right now."
The Broncos had scored with less than two minutes remaining to cut their deficit to 10-7 and then recovered an onside kick. Denver had plenty of time to get within range of a game tying field goal and needed only a few big plays.
Sewell appeared to have made one when he caught a pass from backup quarterback Gary Kubiak and bolted into Bills territory. But Kirby Jackson stripped the ball from Sewell's grasp at the Buffalo 44-yard line and the Bills recovered it.
Sewell made no excuses for his miscue.
"I didn't hold the ball like I should have," he said. "It's pretty much all my fault and I can't blame anyone else. I'm probably going to see it 10 or 12 times in my sleep tonight."
"We were in a zone defense," Jackson said. "I broke up on the ball, hit him and stripped the ball. I was laying on the ground and the ball was right beside me so I just reached over and got it."
Until the fumble, Sewell had enjoyed a fine day with seven receptions for 78 yards.
"No one will remember that," he said. "They'll just remember that last play. I'm sure the Bills think we controlled the game and we think they were lucky."Comment on this story
Other than Sewell's fumble, the most costly plays for Denver were the three missed field goals by David Treadwell in the first half.
His misses came from 42, 37 and 32 yards, the last two hitting the right upright.
"It bothers me inside," Treadwell said. "I realize it's a team game and I just didn't do my part."
Treadwell seemed to know early that it wasn't his day.
"I was not doing as well as I usually do in warmups," he said. "I realized it was going to be a tough day with the wind, but I just tried to block it out."