Broncos making long-awaited return to Super Bowl

Sat Jan 25, 2014 5:11pm EST
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By Julian Linden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Denver Broncos, one of the National Football League's most elite franchises, are back in the Super Bowl for the first time in 15 years.

For a team that became accustomed to success after initially struggling to establish themselves among the game's best, it has been a long and agonizing wait for their shot at reclaiming the greatest prize in American team sports.

Now, all that stands between them and the Vince Lombardi Trophy is their showdown with the Seattle Seahawks in New Jersey on February 2.

Established in 1960 in the now-defunct American Football League, the Broncos joined the NFL in 1970 when the two leagues merged but failed to make a single playoff in their first 17 seasons.

It wasn't until 1977 that the Broncos made their first appearance in the postseason after adopting a near impenetrable defensive system that became popularly known as the Orange Crush, partly in reference to the team's colors.

They went on to win their first AFC Championship that same season and advance to the Super Bowl but lost to the Dallas Cowboys.

The Broncos made the playoffs in four of the next seven seasons but had to wait almost a decade for their second appearance in the Super Bowl.

ELWAY'S ARRIVAL   Continued...

Mayors Michael Hancock of Denver (L) and Ed Murray of Seattle pose for pictures as they pretend to fight for the upcoming Super Bowl XLVIII between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks at a reception with U.S. mayors at the White House in Washington January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas