The Denver Broncos are headed to the AFC Championship game for the second time in three years, and yet all I seem to hear is negativity. Why? What else did you expect?

If anybody entered Sunday’s game thinking Denver was going to blow out Pittsburgh, you just haven’t been watching the Broncos this season. This is what they do: They make Broncos Country sweat it out. As Patrick Smyth pointed out on Monday, the Broncos have played and won more one-score games than just about anybody in NFL history.

Now, either that means the Broncos are just incredibly lucky, or John Elway has simply crafted, as he would say, the ultimate “kicking-and-screaming” team. A lot of the players spoke up on the mentality it takes to play and succeed in so many close games, and, to a man, they all said it was a major advantage.

I guess I’d have to agree. In the NFL, and especially in the playoffs, it’s not always about who’s the best team; it’s about who knows how to win, even when they are the worse team. From start to finish, Denver has proven just that.

At this time of year, all that matters is that you’re still playing, and the Denver Broncos most certainly are.

Still, that doesn’t take away from the fact that Sunday’s matchup was extremely interesting, if not heart-attack inducing. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what went down, using some of Pro Football Focus’ advanced analytics to help us:

Michael Schofield? Michael Schofield!

Broncos postseason win

There are three people in this world Broncos Country universally despises: Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers … and Michael Schofield.

Harsh, yes, but kind of true, too.

But really, he’s been a mess. And honestly, I probably feel more sorry for him than I do hate him. He didn’t ask for this; he didn’t ask John Elway to draft him in the third round. Michael Schofield simply isn’t a very good football player, and when he was pressed into action this season, it showed.

He gave up nine sacks (2nd most), eight quarterback hits (12th most) and 40 pressures   (4th most) during the regular season, and he didn’t even play during the Broncos’ first three games. And when Gary Kubiak finally pulled him for Tyler Polumbus in Week 17, it may have been a bigger move than the switch to Peyton Manning. Broncos Country was ecstatic at the idea of watching a Broncos game where Schofield wasn’t moonwalking into the backfield every time a defensive end bull-rushed him.

Then, after all that, Kubiak decided to start Schofield again, and Denver was left dumbfounded. Apparently, though, he knew what he was doing.

According to PFF, only four players on the Broncos offense scored higher than +1.0 (a green grade), and Michael Schofield was one of them. In fact, next to Evan Mathis‘ team-high 6.3 grade, Schofield’s 2.7 grade was second highest on offense.

Well, what do you know?

Easily, this was Schofield’s best game of the season, but it sort of makes sense. Schofield only had one other “green game” on the season, and it happened the last time the Broncos faced off against the Steelers (1.2).

Maybe this is a sign of things to come, or maybe this is a fluke. I’m not sure. But if I was Gary Kubiak, I’d still have Polumbus locked and ready to go next Sunday; take away the two Pittsburgh games, and Schofield has scored a negative grade in 10 of his 12 starts.