LB Bill Romanowski signs with the Broncos after spending his previous two seasons with the Eagles. “Romo” becomes one of the team’s most tenacious defenders over the next six seasons, which include two world titles.
Dominance, and then despair
By Mike Shanahan’s second year as head coach, the offense was at full gallop. Davis had curbed his in-game snack cravings and was en route to a second consecutive 1,000-yard season. The Broncos wrapped up home-field advantage by bursting to a 12-1 start to the season.
Jacksonville changed that. The second-year expansion team was the roadblock on the freeway to the Super Bowl, a feisty bunch that was peaking at the perfect time. A 30-27 win at Mile High Stadium in the divisional round of the playoffs was the Jaguars’ seventh consecutive victory after a 4-7 start and brought a stunning, unforeseeable end to a season in which the Broncos had the league’s best record.
By this time, Elway was on his 14th season. Seven years had passed since his last Super Bowl. He would be 37 by the 1997 season. There was urgency to win for him — and with him — before the championship window closed.
The loss to the Jaguars could have sunk the Broncos emotionally. Instead, it provided them more motivation than any Broncos team had known.
“The one key ingredient that we had that kind of burned in our souls throughout the offseason before  was that loss to Jacksonville,” recalled linebacker Glenn Cadrez. “That was the key ingredient to our success that kept us wanting to stay in the weight room a little longer, wanting to stay in the film room a little longer, wanting to get every little detail right, so that when we walked on the field, we were so prepared that there was no denying us.”