ENGLEWOOD - When Peyton Manning relieved Brock Osweiler in the third quarter of the Denver Broncos' final regular season game, the home crowd went crazy.

All eyes were on the five-time NFL MVP as he led Denver to a comeback win to secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Manning's entrance certainly gave the Broncos a spark, but it was a simultaneous move that also turned things around.

As Manning trotted onto the field, so did right tackle Tyler Polumbus. Polumbus took over for the struggling Michael Schofield, and with that substitution the Denver offensive line began to jell. Now Polumbus will play a big role when the Broncos face Carolina in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, trying to win a championship with a team he grew up watching.

"It's awesome," Polumbus said last week. "I started my career here. Now I'm back here making a Super Bowl run. I couldn't ask for anything more."

Polumbus grew up not far from the Broncos' training facility at Dove Valley. He was a star at Cherry Creek High School and then for the Colorado Buffaloes. He was an undrafted rookie coming out of Colorado in 2008 and was signed by the Broncos. He played two years in Denver before he bounced around.

He played a year-plus in Seattle before the Seahawks cut him five games into the 2011 season. He signed with Washington, whose coach, Mike Shanahan, plucked him out of college in Denver. He played five games for Shanahan that year and then three more seasons with Washington, starting 38 out of a possible 48 games in that span.


Atlanta signed him before this season but cut him three games in. He wasn't unemployed for long. Two days after he was released the Broncos nabbed him.

"I was planning on playing," he said. "I have plenty of faith in my ability and I've got a lot of film out there and a lot of starts, so I was expecting to get picked up."

Denver picked him up for depth but he has become a valuable piece in the fluid offensive line that has been hit hard by injury. The Broncos suffered their first setback when Pro Bowler Ryan Clady tore his left ACL last May, prompting them to bring back Ryan Harris.

Then rookie Ty Sambrailo went down with a shoulder injury in late September, further straining Denver's depth on the offensive line.

Polumbus has yet to start but he has proved he can get the job done when called upon, as the regular-season finale showed.

"That game in particular didn't do anything for me," he said. "This has been eight years in the works of learning this game and learning the ins and outs, and eight years of becoming confident in your abilities. It was good to get out there and have fun."

A trip to the Super Bowl has only enhanced that fun. At 30, he is mature enough to understand what a special opportunity is in front of him and he's embracing it.

"It's been a long time coming to get this far," he said. "A lot of guys will play 12, 15 years and never get a chance to do this. I didn't ever have the expectation, so it's cool."

Buffs with Super Bowl rings

When former Colorado offensive tackle and current Broncos lineman Tyler Polumbus lines up against the Carolina Panthers for Super Bowl 50, he'll have a chance to win the 50th Super Bowl ring by a Buff in the 50th Super Bowl. Here's the list of Buffs with Super Bowl rings and the seasons in which they won them, courtesy of cubuffs.com:

1 966 — Green Bay, Boyd Dowler, E

1 967 — Green Bay, Boyd Dowler, E

1972 — Miami, Dick Anderson, DB

1973 — Miami, Dick Anderson, DB

1976 — Oakland, Cliff Branch, WR

Terry Kunz, RB

1980 — Oakland, Cliff Branch, WR

Mike L. Davis, DB

Odis McKinney, DB

Greg Westbrooks, LB

1982 — San Francisco, George Visger, DT

1983 — L.A. Raiders, Cliff Branch, WR

Mike L. Davis, DB

Don Hasselbeck, TE

Odis McKinney, DB

1985 — Chicago, Brian Cabral, LB

Emery Moorehead,WR

1986 — N.Y. Giants, Lee Rouson, RB

1987 — Washington, Eric Coyle, C

Richard Johnson, WR

1988 — San Francisco, Barry Helton, P

1989 — San Francisco, Barry Helton, P

1992 — Dallas, Mickey Pruitt, LB

1996 — Green Bay, Shannon Clavelle, DT

Darius Holland, DT

1997 — Denver, Matt Lepsis, OT

Tom Rouen, P

Alfred Williams, DE

1998 — Denver, Matt Lepsis, OT

Viliami Maumau, DT

Tom Rouen, P

Alfred Williams, DE

2001 — New England, Tom Ashworth, OT

Charles E. Johnson,WR

Ted Johnson, ILB

Ben Kelly, CB/KR

2003 — New England, Tom Ashworth, OT

Christian Fauria, TE

Daniel Graham, TE

Ted Johnson, ILB

2004 — New England, Tom Ashworth, OT

Christian Fauria, TE

Daniel Graham, TE

Ted Johnson, ILB

2008 — Pittsburgh, Mitch Berger, P

2010 — Green Bay, Mason Crosby, PK

Brad Jones, OLB

2012 — Baltimore, Jimmy Smith, CB

2014 — New England, Nate Solder, OT