Page 2 columnist
The Monday night game between Denver and New England was a Grade A humdinger, as they say in the cockfighting pits. The score wandered back and forth all night, with the Broncos looking like winners until the final two minutes when they got fatally out-witted and dashed on the rocks of failure by a sharper and quicker Football coach named Bill Belichick.
It was a horrible knife in the guts for the Broncos, who came into the game favored by three points and backed by 73,000 wildly-confident fans literally shaking the elegant new stadium that used to be called Mile High with their hungry, desperate screaming.
But in the end it was no use . . . The Broncos lost anyway, 30-26, as time ran out on their playoff hopes and drained the life out of their fans. A sickening pall of silence fell on the huge, once-roaring crowd as it fled the stadium in a funk.
"It was absolutely horrible," said one New York sportswriter who found himself in Denver for the second Monday night this season. "I dread coming to Denver," he said before the game. "This place is such a lame cow-town that I never feel comfortable here. Kansas City is a lot more fun, and the Chiefs play better football."
Which is true, by the numbers: The unbeaten Chiefs are 8-0 and rolling, while the Broncos are a shaky 5-4 and are led by a dubious quarterback who played for the New York Dragons of the Arena League last year. Just how they came into the game a three-point favorite was not easy for the gambling community to understand.
Denver was coming off a savage 26-6 beating by the quasi-impressive Baltimore Ravens, who rule the lame/weak NFC North division, where their closest pursuers are the Bengals and the Browns at 3-5.
The Broncos are still dangerous at 5-4, but they happen to play in the usually-dominant AFC West, along with the high-riding Chiefs at 8-0. The only way Denver is going to make the playoffs this year is as a wild-card. The Broncos are a good enough team to almost beat the 7-2 Patriots with a practice-squad quarterback and with two of their three starting linebackers out for the season.
Well, the Broncos looked pretty damn tough on Monday night, and so did low-rated Danny Kannell at QB, who had a career night. Denver will sneak up on some people this year, but not in the playoffs.
Kansas City and the hard-rocking Indianapolis Colts are the class of the AFC, and either one is a good bet to win the Super Bowl. Green Bay made chopped liver out of the once-imperial Vikings on Sunday night, and the rest of the NFC is too scrambled to contend for anything except runner-up and class dunce.
Exactly, as Omar would say -- but let's not forget what happened to the high-prancing Oakland Raiders in the Big Game last season. They were ripped to shreds by Tampa Bay, beaten so shamefully that they still haven't recovered from it. The Raiders are now being called "the worst team in football" by the network wizards, and that is a pretty grim rap in a league that includes San Diego, Atlanta and Jacksonville. All three are 1-7 and hopeless, yet they all hover only one (1) game behind the wretched Raiders -- who refuse to get rid of the lineman with bipolar disorder who went AWOL on them just before the Super Bowl disaster and should never be allowed the play in the NFL again.
Al Davis hates failures worse than he hates disloyalty, but for some queer reason he still pays this bum $2 million a year. It is Al's worst mistake since he was too cheap to pay a quarterback named Steve Young to play for Oakland instead of San Francisco. Al was stupid, back then, and he is still stupid today. Some people never learn.
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was born and raised in Louisville, Ky. His books include "Hell's Angels," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72," "The Great Shark Hunt," "The Curse of Lono," "Generation of Swine," "Songs of the Doomed," "Screwjack," "Better Than Sex," "The Proud Highway," "The Rum Diary," and "Fear and Loathing in America." His latest book, "Kingdom of Fear," has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears regularly on Page 2.