- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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The details of history can get lost in the heartache sometimes.
Sometimes something good is overshadowed by something not so good. And as Thursday's season opener between the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens approaches, it will get the usual turn-back-the-clock treatment given the last meeting between the two teams was a double-overtime playoff thriller.
A thriller for the Ravens, anyway, as it turned into an improbable rally on the way to a Super Bowl win. But for the Broncos it is simply one of the most crushing losses in franchise history.
And yet, in most ways, in two explosive football moments, it was still the best game of Trindon Holliday's career. And it may have been one of the best postseason games an NFL returner has ever authored, as Holliday became the first player in league history to bring back a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the same playoff game. Holliday scored the Broncos' first touchdown of the game with a 90-yard punt return, and later took the second-half kickoff back 104 yards for a touchdown.
It was an achievement even John Harbaugh, a longtime special-teams coach before he took over the Ravens, had to admire at least some along the way.
"Well, I don’t think very well of them," Harbaugh said. "You know, I was disappointed. On the one hand, for us I thought we did a subpar job on both of those plays, which is usually the case when balls go all the way back. [But] it was an amazing turn of events for a divisional game to have two returns for touchdowns, so from that standpoint I guess I had a reluctant admiration for what they accomplished and what he accomplished in such a big setting. He's really got spectacular ability."
But the ending for the Broncos was so unexpected. A game they had seemingly won got away with a Joe Flacco-to-Jacoby Jones missile launch that covered 70 yards with less than a minute to play in regulation to tie things at 35-35, and then in overtime the Broncos couldn't close the deal.
And for Holliday, that meant something he did for the first time ever in a postseason game is something that few people talk about or even remember, as it has been lost amid all of the swirl about misplayed passes, kneel-downs and squandered home-field advantage.
"After the game was over with, I guess me and my family, we never really talked about it much," Holliday said. "Maybe the day after the game, we all talked a little bit, but after that we all just kind of let it go."
It capped what had been a breakout season for Holliday, who had played five games for Houston before he was waived in October because the team needed help at linebacker. The Broncos claimed him, and he went to record two punt returns for touchdowns and two kickoff returns for touchdowns, including his playoff performance.
Given the Texans were 5-0 when they waived him and the Broncos won the last 11 games of the regular season, Holliday did not play in a loss last season until the playoff game.
"I do know where it fits all time and things like that," Holliday said. "I am proud, but that’s really over with now. I want to be all about this Thursday. I appreciate it now, I do. But you know this season’s here, I want to be about this season.
"I guess I would just say now I always thought I had it in me."
5hEric D. Williams