Sean Payton’s here to make an impression.
The first-year Broncos coach introduced himself to Denver in thrilling fashion Sunday with a redux of one of the most famous plays in Super Bowl history. The Broncos won the coin toss against the Las Vegas Raiders and elected to defer, meaning Will Lutz was on deck for the opening kickoff. But he didn’t send it deep.
The Broncos kicker opted for subterfuge, sending the ball short and right for an onside kick. The Broncos came up with the loose ball sending a hungry Mile-High crowd into a frenzy.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, the excitement was short-lived. Denver was flagged for an illegal touch before the ball traveled 10 yards. Las Vegas gained possession and drove the ball 44 yards for a touchdown from first-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to Jakobi Meyers.
Sean Payton sends a message
Regardless of the outcome, the onside kick was a jolt of energy for a franchise and fanbase reeling from the short-lived and disastrous Nathaniel Hackett era. Payton joined the Broncos this offseason as a Hall of Fame-caliber coach and a perceived savior of an impotent offense that floundered in its first year with Russell Wilson at the helm.
He started things of with a recall to the surprise onside kick that started the second half of Super Bowl XLIV and sparked the New Orleans Saints to their first and only Super Bowl win.
While Sunday’s effort wasn’t successful, it sent a message. Change has arrived in Denver.