Broncos Greatest Games, Round 2

I hope everyone enjoyed Round 1 of Broncos greatest games.  Off to round 2. Same as before, vote in the comments.  I’ll leave voting open until about 9PM Mountain time Monday Night.

1              NWE 30-24   11/29/2015

The Broncos were down 21-7 heading into the 4th quarter, in this snowy Sunday Night matchup between the 10-0 Patriots and 9-2 Broncos.  Osweiler was filling in for an injured Peyton, in only his second start, and at that point was 15/29, for 132 yards.

The Broncos got their spark when the patriots muffed the punt, and the Broncos recovered.  The Broncos went on to score 17 unanswered points, to give themselves a 3 point lead with 1:09 to go.  Unfortunately, Brady lead the team on a 51 yard drive to get the game timing field goal.  The Patriots received to start OT, but only moved backwards thanks to a Von Miller sack.

The Broncos had great field position, and 3 plays later CJ Anderson had a walk off 48 yard TD run to end the game.  Highlights

8              KAN 20-17   12/4/1994

While John Elway was examined for a possible serious knee injury, backup quarterback Hugh Millen engineered a 41-yard drive that set up a game-winning Jason Elam field goal in overtime at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

5              SDG 20-13   11/9/1980

Broncos were 9 point underdogs, and fell behind 6-0 early. The Defense forced 3 turnovers and 6 sacks, and the Broncos won a scrappy game, despite being outgained 459 yards to 219.   The Broncos have only ever won while being bigger underdogs once, a 1987 matchup against the Raiders.

13           NWE 34-8   11/17/1996

The Broncos dominated the eventual AFC Championship Patriots in Foxoboro.  TD rushed for 154 yards and 2 TDs, and Elway added 2 more.  This game is famous, for Shannon Sharpe’s, “We are killing the Patriots” comments. Boxscore

6              KAN 27-21   12/12/1993

In another epic Chiefs-Broncos contest, Marty Schottenheimer, once again left Denver a loser. The Broncos scored ten unanswered points in the fourth quarter, including a John Elway to Shannon Sharpe six-yard go-ahead touchdown reception.

3              KAN 24-20   11/17/1991

The Broncos D forced 4 Steve Deberg Interceptions, including one by Atwater and 1 taken back for a TD by Charles Dimry.  Elway struggled a bit, only going 9/20, for 134 yards, 1 TD, and 6 sacks.

7              SDG 34-23   10/19/2009

Highlight of the McD era. I remember watching this one in the dorms and was so pleased. Eddie Royal had two return TDs and defense had 5 sacks of Rivers, including a strip sack to help close it out.  This win pushed us to 6-0 and SD down to 2-3. It was fun while it lasted. Highlights

15           DAL 42-23   9/13/1998

One of only 2 regular season game from 1998 to make this list. The Broncos embarrassed a good Cowboys team, with TD rushing for 191 yards and 3 TDs (breakaway TD runs of 63 and 59 yards), and Elway going an efficient 16 for 22 for 268 yards and 2 TDs. Aikman was knocked out of the game and Jason Garret filled in. Boxscore

1              CIN 20-17   12/28/2015

The Broncos even making the playoffs wasn’t guaranteed if the Broncos lost this game, and the Broncos found themselves down 14-0 early on.  The defense finally put their hurt on, and a long CJ Anderson run helped the Broncos force OT despite a missed FG by McManus. The Broncos forced a turnover to end the game and clinch a playoff birth.  Highlights. BoxScore.

9              RAI 16-13   9/30/1984

Broncos forced 2 Jim Plunkett interceptions, and held Marcus Allen to only 66 yards rushing, as they upset the Raiders in LA.  Again, this was a good, 11-5 Raiders squad, but one the Broncos managed to sweep.  The Broncos finished the season 13-3, but were ultimately upset by the Steelers in the playoffs.

12           SFO 17-16   11/11/1985

This contest, better known as the Snowball Game, was notable for a play in which spectators at Denver‘s Mile High Stadium disrupted a 49ers field goal attempt by throwing snowballs from the stands. After the game, referee Jim Tunney explained, “We have no recourse in terms of a foul or to call it on the home team or the fans. There’s nothing in the rule book that allows us to do that.” He ordered an increase in stadium security at halftime, and no further incidents occurred.

4              SDG 35-24   10/15/2012

In what is arguably the greatest comeback in Denver Broncos history, the Broncos erased a 24-0 halftime deficit to win 35-24. At halftime, many were calling the Peyton Manning signing a mistake and to bring back Tim Tebow. In the second half, Manning completed 13 of 14 pass attempts for 167 yards and three touchdowns. The Broncos Defense also scored two second half touchdowns. Since this contest, the Broncos have gone a remarkable 34-11 in regular season play, which culminated in last season’s Super Bowl 50 victory. Andrew Mason recently wrote a great write-up about this game.

6              SFO 16-13   10/9/1988

Rich Karlis kicked a game-winning 22-yard field goal in overtime at San Francisco. In the fourth quarter, John Elway connected with Vance Johnson on an 8-yard touchdown pass to send the game to overtime. The 49ers would go on to capture a Super Bowl title that season, followed by a Super Bowl repeat in 1989 at the expense of the Broncos.

3              SEA 31-14   12/15/1984

Both teams came into this at 12-3, meaning the winner would be Crowned the AFC West champion.  The Broncos rose to the occasion on the road, and overcame 4 John Elway interceptions by forcing 3 of their own, including 1 INT by Mecklenburg, and another by Foley that he returned for a TD  to give the Broncos a commanding  24-7 lead.

7              OAK 27-24   11/13/2000

Monday night game against an Oak team that was the clear cut best in the league  (they finished the year 12-4, with 2 losses coming against the Broncos). Greise got knocked out with a separated shoulder and came back to lead the team to victory. He talked after the game about hearing his shoulder pop in and out on certain throws. He lead the team on a 7 play 44 yard drive to give the Broncos the game winning FG and avoid OT with only 1:06 to go. The defense also forced 3 turnovers, including 2 Rich Gannon INTs.

This was the Last Monday night game at mile high.  Yamule has pointed out that Griese was having a phenomenal season, and was never the same after this game. Highlights. ESPN Game Recap

15           BAL 21-19   12/11/1983

I’ll admit I fiddled with the scoring system to make sure this game made the cut.  The Broncos were down 19-0 in the 4th quarter when a Rookie John Elway took the field.  At that point, the Broncos were 3-5 in his starts, and he had thrown 4 TDs to 10 INTs.

But Elway finally showed why he was a worthy #1 pick, as he lead the Broncos to three straight scoring drives for his first 4QC and GWD, eliminating the team that drafted him from playoff contention, and helping propel the Broncos to a wildcard spot.   Said Reeves after the game, “Now, our team is never really out of a game. They know they can always come back.”

This was also Gradishar’s last game in Denver. Story Summary and Highlights.

1             KAN 31-24   9/17/2015

The Broncos defeated Kansas City on a Road Thursday Night game, despite being 3 point underdogs. The Broncos fell behind 14-0 after a Peyton Manning Pick 6, but Peyton rebounded with an 80 yard TD scoring drive.  Talib then picked off Smith, setting up the Broncos for another TD to tie the game.

In the 2nd half, both teams added an early FG before trading a few punts back and forth.  Harris picked off Smith with 6 minutes to go in a tie game, but the Broncos offense stalled again.  A short punt and penalty gave KC good field position, and they quickly drove down and scored on an 8 yard Knile Davis TD.  With only 1 timeout, 2:27, and facing a 7 point deficit, Manning lead the team on an 80 yard drive, that ended with a 19 Yard TD strike to Emmanuel Sanders to tie the game.

With only 36 seconds remaining, the Chiefs decided to hand the ball off to Charles.  Brandon Marshall forced a fumble which Bradley Roby returned for a TD to seal the miraculous win.  In the end, the Broncos D forced 5 turnovers, in one of the most exciting Broncos games ever.  Highlights

8             OAK 30-7   10/16/1977

The undefeated 4-0 Denver Broncos headed into this game at Oakland to face a Raiders team, who was on a 17-game winning streak. The Broncos had their way the entire game, blowing out their most hated rival. Highlights commence at the 0:25 mark. And we all know what happened later that season against the Raiders in the 1977 AFC Championship Game.

[A couple more stats about this one. The Raiders entered this game averaging 26 pts/game and finished the year with the number one ranked offense in points, yards, and first downs.  But the Broncos #1 D was so dominant, forcing 8 turnovers, that the Broncos only needed 200 yards and 8 first downs to put up 30 points.]

5             SEA 37-34   9/23/1979

Broncos were down 34-10 midway through the 3rd quarter before coming back to win this wild game.  Broncos forced 4 turnovers, including 3 Jim Zorn picks. Down 24, Craig Morton entered in relief of Norris Weese, who started the game with 2 picks.  The Broncos scored 21 points in under 2 minutes 34 seconds, a Broncos record that still stands.  Running back Rob Lyte scored the game winning Touch Down, and handed the ball to Bob Peck, the Broncos PR director.  Peck had an inoperable brain tumor, and would die a few weeks later. Read this Andrew Mason write up for the complete story.

4             NWE 17-7   9/24/2006

From The Associated Press: Jake Plummer and Javon Walker gave the Broncos enough offense to keep the finicky Denver fans at bay – for another week, at least. The Broncos’ defense did the rest. Plummer, the quick target of Denver boo-birds after two bad performances, threw touchdown passes of 83 and 32 yards to Walker on Sunday night as the Broncos beat The New England Patriots 17-7 at Gillette Stadium.

They were Plummer’s first two TD passes of the season, and just the second and third touchdowns Denver has scored. “There was no difference, just go out and play,” Plummer said. “We had a good game plan … it just happened to work this week.”

But the credit goes as much to a Denver defense that shut down Tom Brady and a Patriots offense that was without several of its few options — rookie receiver Chad Jackson, the team’s only deep threat, was out with a hamstring problem and running back Corey Dillon left in the first half with an arm injury. Highlights of Walker’s two touchdown receptions are available starting at the 0:34 mark. As an aside, it looks like the media’s excuses for every Brady loss has now lasted for over a decade.

11           BAL 27-13   11/27/1977

The 9-1 Broncos hosted the 9-1 Colts on this November afternoon. Craig Morton connected with Upchurch early in the game for a 41 yard TD pass, and would later add 2 more scores. Tom Jackson added a 73 yard interception return to extend a 14-13 lead to 21-13.

Legwold Nominated this interception as one of the Broncos three most memorable moments.

This game was key in securing the Broncos first AFC West Championship (they finished 12-2, the Raiders finished 11-3), and first playoff birth.  This game also helped earn Home Field advantage over the Raiders and Colts, which the Broncos leveraged to earn their first AFC Championship title.

3             WAS 31-30   12/13/1986

Surprised to see you could find this entire game on youtube (2nd half).  The Redskins jumped out to a 13-0 lead, but Elway rallied the team with 2 TDs.  The Broncos clinched the AFC West with this win.  The Redskins would go on to lose the NFCC 17-0 to the Giants, who would beat the Broncos in super bowl XXI, 39-20.

7             SDG 23-7   12/31/2005

The Broncos entered as 7 point underdogs since they had already locked themselves into the 2 seed, and the Chargers needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.  The Broncos however, flexed their muscles heading into the playoffs, forcing two turnovers near the goaline, and forced Rivers’ first pick (in a sign of things to come).  330 pound Gerard Warren dove into Drew Brees’ shoulder going for a fumble and knocked him out of the game, in a play that might have changed NFL history.  Bradlee Van Pelt threw his only NFL passes in this game, going 2/8 but with 41 rushing yards.  Highlights

2             CHI 31-29   11/16/1987

From The Associated Press: John Elway won a game of dueling quarterbacks with Jim McMahon in Denver, throwing for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns Monday night as the Denver Broncos twice erased deficits to beat the Chicago Bears, 31-29. Elway brought the Broncos back from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit and from eight points back in the fourth, finally running the drive that culminated in Steve Sewell’s four-yard touchdown run with 4:58 left for the winning points. The final margin was two missed extra points by the Bears. Kevin Butler kicked one wide left, and another failed when holder Mike Tomczak fumbled the snap.

1             RAI 22-19   10/28/1984

The 7-1 Broncos visited the 7-1 Raiders, and the Broncos entered the game as 6 point underdogs, despite beating the Raiders 16-13 a few weeks earlier. Elway was out, so Kubiak was called upon to face the tough Raiders defense.  The Raiders sacked Kubiak for a safety early on, and built up a 12-0 lead.  But Kubiak put up the best performance of his career, threw two 4th Quarter TD passes to tie the game, and drove the Broncos into position for the Game winning OT FG.   The Broncos would finish the season 13-3, with an AFC West title.   Boxscore

8             SEA 40-17   9/13/1987

Prior to this season opener, rookie Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth made disparaging remarks about John Elway. The Mile High Stadium crowd was full of fans wearing, “Ban the Boz,” t-shirts. The Broncos went on to crush the Seahawks, with Elway throwing for 338 yards and four touchdowns.;;

5             NWE 20-17   10/11/2009

McDaniels beat his mentor, Bill Belicheck, in Denver, to push the Broncos to 5-0 and help convince people the Broncos weren’t a product of their soft schedule.  The Broncos forced OT with a Brandon Marshall 11 yard TD pass from Kyle Orton, and Matt Prater hit his first game winning FG. This was Brady’s first OT loss ever.  Film Breakdown. Highlights

4             KAN 35-28   12/1/2013

From The Associated Press: In the words of Chiefs safety Eric Berry, Peyton Manning does not discriminate. If you’re playing wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, and you manage to get yourself open, you can bet that Manning is going to find a way to get you the ball. On Sunday, he rewarded Eric Decker all afternoon. Manning threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns, four of them to Decker, and the Broncos held off a rally to beat the Chiefs 35-28 (at Arrowhead Stadium) and seized control of the AFC West.

11           KAN 19-3   8/31/1997

Fresh off the loss to Jacksonville, the Broncos opened the season against Neil Smith’s former team. The D was stout, allowing only 241 total yards, and only 3 points.  The Broncos would meet the Chiefs twice more this season, with both games being classics.

3             GNB 29-10   11/1/2015

This Sunday Night home matchup featured two undefeated rivals.  People thought the Broncos were a product of their soft schedule, and they entered as 2.5 home point underdogs. The entire team put their best foot forward as the Broncos sent a statement to the rest of the league.

The Broncos D put up their best regular season performance, holding the high powered Packers offense to an amazingly low amazing 140 yards, and Rodgers was held to just 77 yards.  DT put up his best game of the season with 168 yards and 8 receptions. Ronnie Hillman had 2 TDs and CJ broke out of his slump with 100 yards rushing.  Peyton put up his best performance of the year, with 340 yards passing on 21/29.

Additionally, Pat Bowlen was inducted into the ring of fame.  I feel pretty lucky to have been at this game.  Highlights

7             KAN 20-19   10/4/1992

The 3-1 Broncos hosted the 3-1 Chiefs at Mile High. The Chiefs were up 16-6 with 6 minutes to go when Neil Smith forced and recovered an Elway fumble, leaving the Broncos with grim odds.  The D held KC to just a FG, but the Broncos were still down 13 with 5 minutes left to play.

But Elway did what he does best, leading a 14 play, 80 yard TD drive that was capped with a 25 yard TD pass to Mark Jackson.  With the crowd buzzing, the Chiefs started deep in their own territory and the defense forced a quick 3 and out.  A good punt return gave the Broncos the ball at the 27, and Elway needed only a few plays to find Vance Johnson for 6 points. Treadwell bounced the go ahead XP off the upright.

Elway had 311 yards passing and 2 TDs, with Sharpe coming down with 9 catches for 118 yards.  See this awesome write up of the game I found on Predominately Orange.

2             PIT 14-10   9/4/1983

From The New York Times: When Ron Egloff caught the fourth-quarter touchdown pass that gave the Denver Broncos a victory (at) Pittsburgh . . . today, John Elway, Denver’s rookie quarterback, leaped high into the air with his arms over his head. That Elway was injured at the time and standing on the sideline, and that the pass was thrown by Steve DeBerg, his replacement, were of little consequence to him. “All I wanted to see was a big ‘W’ up there,” Elway said after the Broncos held on to win, 14-10, on the first Sunday of the National Football League season. . . . The Broncos took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Sammy Winder, ending a 20- yard drive set up by a Franco Harris fumble. Harris’s fumble was the second of seven Pittsburgh turnovers – four fumbles and three interceptions by the quarterback Cliff Stoudt, who started in place of the injured Terry Bradshaw [who had been highly critical of Elway that off-season].

Elway had a rough start to his career. As you may recall in this game, Elway mistakenly lined up under an offensive guard instead of the center on one offensive play. His stat line finished as 1 for 8, with 1 interception, 4 sacks, and no positive rushing attempts.;;

If I could recruit anyone to help write bios for the playoff games, that will join the tournament middle of the week, let me know.  There’s only 20, and there is probably significant documentation on each, so it should be an easier process.

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Lifelong Broncos fan and current Engineer living and working in Denver.