Broncos greatest games, round 5

Round 5. Same as before, vote in the comments. Looking like we should wrap up on Thursday.

1 CLE 23-20 01/11/87

The Drive.  After a 48 yard TD pass by Bernie Kosar, the Broncos found themselves trailing 13-20 in Cleveland, with 5 minutes to go and the ball on their own 2 yard line.  The Cleveland fans were quite rowdy, but Elway did, what he does best.

“I suddenly flashed on something I was thinking about before the game,” Elway said later. “Great quarterbacks make great plays in great games. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?”
Elway marched the team down the field, on a 15 play drive, including a 3rd and 18 conversion, and a 3rd and 2 conversion to get their first first down.  Elway found Jackson from 5 yards out on 3rd and 1 to tie the game at 20. The Broncos would go on to win the game in OT, and send both Elway and Bowlen to their first super bowl. Elway finished 22/38 for 244 yards, with 1 TD and 1 INT, and Sammy Widner had 83 yards rushing.  The Broncos D forced 3 turnovers, including two picks.

HOF write up   Complete Drive on youtube.


17 PIT 24-23 01/07/90

The Broncos entered this game as 10 point favorites, yet endured quite a scare in the first game of this super bowl run.  The Broncos had a dominant Wade Phillips lead D that year, finishing 1st in points allowed.

Bubby Bristor started this game for the Steelers.  Pittsburgh jumped out to an early lead, and the Broncos were fighting to catch up all game long.  Down 23-17 with 7 minutes to go, Elway lead the team on a 71 yard TD drive to take the lead.  Bristor had his chance, but the Broncos forced a bad snap on 3rd and 10 and recovered to seal the win.

9 PIT 34-21 12/24/77

They say you never forget your first. In the Divisional round of the playoffs, the Broncos faced off against a Steelers team who was in the middle of a string that included 4 super bowl wins in 6 years.  This was the Broncos first ever playoff game after 17 years in Denver.  The Broncos had beaten the Steelers early in the season, on a day their defense held the Steelers to only 216 yards and 7 points.
The Broncos were tied 14-14 at half, but the Broncos came to life in the second half, outscoring the Steelers 20-7.  Bradshaw threw 3 picks, including two 4th quarter picks by  Tom Jackson to help seal the game.  Craig Morton ended the game 11/23 for 164 yards and 2 TDs.

8 NYJ 23-10 01/17/99

On an incredibly windy day, and in John Elway’s last home game of his career, he completed only 13 of 34 passes. However, running back Terrell Davis, the NFL MVP in 1998, ran for 167 yards and a touchdown, and Denver capitalized on 6 turnovers (two interceptions by defensive back Darrien Gordon and four fumbles) by the Jets to overcome a 10–0 deficit. Jets running back Curtis Martin was held to just 14 rushing yards on 13 carries. New York quarterback Vinny Testaverde threw for 356 yards, but no touchdowns and was intercepted twice. Gordon returned 5 punts for 79 yards and two interceptions for 48. CBS Sports’ game introduction: is available at The entire game, including late 1990s commercials, is available at

4 OAK 20-17 01/01/78

Despite a poor day from Broncos’ veteran kicker Jim Turner, who missed three field goals and had an extra point blocked, Denver converted two second half turnovers into touchdowns to edge out the defending Super Bowl champion Raiders. In the second half, Oakland . . . seemed primed to drive for a leading touchdown, but before they could get out of their own territory, Denver linebacker Bob Swenson made a clutch interception and returned the ball 14 yards to the Oakland 17-yard line. Two plays later, Haven Moses made a sliding 12-yard catch of Craig Morton’s pass in the end zone, putting the Broncos ahead 20–10 after Turner’s extra point was blocked. Oakland struck back with an 8-play, 74-yard drive to score on a 17-yard touchdown catch to make it 20–17 with 3:16 left in regulation, but the Broncos’ held the ball for the rest of the game and ran out the clock. Moses was responsible for most of Denver’s 217 yards gained through the air, finishing the game with 5 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Morton completed 10/20 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns, with one interceptions.

Arguably, this was by far the Broncos’ most significant win in franchise history until their Super Bowl XXXII victory. Extended game highlights are available at The full game is available at

20 JAX 42-17 12/27/97

Denver compiled 310 rushing yards and 511 total yards of offense, and held the ball for 40:59 in a 42–17 win, avenging their playoff loss to the Jaguars the year before. The Broncos dominated early, converting their first nine third downs and scoring touchdowns on their first three drives. On the Broncos’ first drive, they converted four third downs, as they drove 72 yards in 7:21, featuring a 25-yard reception by Ed McCaffrey on 3rd and 15, and scored on a two-yard touchdown run by Terrell Davis. The Broncos then drove 60 yards and increased their lead to 14-0 with a 43-yard touchdown pass from John Elway to Rod Smith on 3rd down and 4 with 2:37 left in the first quarter. The Broncos then drove 92 yards to make the score 21-0 on Davis’s five-yard touchdown run.

Davis rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Derek Loville, who had only rushed for 124 yards during the regular season, had 103 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries. Elway completed 16 of 24 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown. Rod Smith was the top receiver of the game with three receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown. Vaughn Hebron also had six carries for 23 yards and a touchdown. I could not find any footage from this game online, but I think I may have a VHS tape somewhere in my basement or at my parents’ home.

12 HOU 26-24 01/04/92

In the Drive Part II, and trailing 24–23 with 2:07 left in the game, quarterback John Elway led the Broncos from their own two-yard line to the winning 28-yard field goal by David Treadwell with 16 seconds left. On the drive, he converted on two fourth downs. On fourth down and 6 from the Denver 28, he rushed for 7 yards. Then on fourth down and 10, he completed a 44-yard pass to wide receiver Vance Johnson.

The Oilers jumped to a 14–0 lead with quarterback Warren Moon’s two touchdown passes to wide receivers Haywood Jeffires and Drew Hill for 15 and 9 yards, respectively. Elway then completed a 10-yard touchdown to Johnson, but kicker Treadwell missed the extra point. Moon responded by throwing a 6-yard touchdown to wide receiver Curtis Duncan to give Houston a 21–6 lead, but Denver safety Steve Atwater’s interception set up Greg Lewis’ 1-yard run touchdown before halftime on an 88-yard drive, making the score 21–13.

In the second half, each team scored a field goal, which gave Houston a 24–16 lead in the fourth quarter. The Broncos then marched 80 yards to score on Lewis’ 1-yard touchdown run on a drive that included a fumbled snap that Elway recovered to complete a first down pass, and a 26-yard completion on fourth down and a four. Denver’s defense subsequently forced a punt for the first time in the game, and Greg Montgomery’s 44-yard kick was downed on the 2-yard line. From there, Elway started off the drive with a 22-yard pass to Mike Young. The Broncos were forced into fourth downs twice in a row after that, but Elway converted each one with a 7-yard run and 44-yard completion to Johnson at the Oilers 21-yard line. One play later, Treadwell kicked a 28-yard field goal for the win. NFL Films’ highlights, with Tyrone Braxton wired for sound, are available at

5 CLE 38-33 01/17/88

Fresh of Elway’s MVP season, and one year after the drive, the Broncos again faced the Cleveland browns for the AFCC, but this time the game was played at Mile High.  At first, it did not appear the Broncos would need an Elway comeback, as they instead jumped to leads of 21-3, and 28-10.  But Bernie Kosar got hot, and brought the team back to tie the game at 31-31.  Elway lead the Broncos on a TD drive culminating with a 20 yard TD pass to Winder with 6 minutes to go.

After a long Browns drive, Byner, who had 2 TDs and 187 yards at that point in the game, fumbled the ball at the goal line, in a play known as “The Fumble.” The Broncos held on to win, and advance on to the Super Bowl.

Elway finished the day 14/26, for 281 yards and 3 TDs, including an 80 yard TD toss to Jackson on a scramble play.  The Broncos D forced 4 Cleveland turnovers in total.


27              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

22  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.]

19 PIT 29-23 01/08/12
It appeared Tebowmania was going to end with an embarrassing playoff loss when the Broncos snuck into the playoffs, as the Broncos were 7.5 point underdogs in this game.  Tebow was coming off a 6/22 performance against KC, and it seemed the run was over.
The game started how many feared it would, with the Broncos facing 2 straight 3 and outs, and the Steelers putting together two long FG drives to build a 6-0 lead.  But then the magic started, and Tebow found success with the long ball.  A 51 yard Pass to DT on 3rd and 12 set up a 30 Yard TD pass to Eddie Royal in the corner of the endzone. The Broncos D forced a 3 and out, and Tebow connected on a 58 yard pass to DT to set up an 8 yard Tebow TD run.
A Quinton Carter pick set up a Broncos FG, and another defensive stop and Broncos drive set up another FG to send the Broncos into half up 20-6, a scenario that seemed impossible an hour earlier.

In the 2nd half, the Steelers put up 17 points and the Broncos couldn’t finish on their drives, and the game was tied 23-23.  The Broncos held off the Steelers attempt to win the game in regulation, and to OT we went. On the first play of OT, Tebow connected with DT who outran everyone for 80 yards and the game winning TD.  Game Highlights and OT highlights

3 PIT 24-21 01/11/98

After the Broncos demolished the Jags, and upset the Chiefs, the Broncos were still 1 point underdogs to the Steelers, who had beaten Denver 35-24 five weeks earlier.

With the score 14-10, Elway lead two late 2nd quarter drives to give the Broncos a 24-14 lead at the half.  The Broncos offense struggled in the 2nd half, but their D made up for it. The Broncos forced a total of 4 turnovers, including 3 Kordell Stewart interceptions, several of which were deep in Broncos territory.  The Steelers scored with just under 3 minutes to go to pull within 3, but Elway and company put together a drive to seal the game.  This drive included a 3rd down conversion to Shannon Sharpe, where Elway apparently told Sharpe to “just get open” rather than running a scripted route.  Elway through a bootleg to McCaffrey on the next play to end the game.

“All week long we heard about how good the Steelers were, how they had the Big Three of Kordell Stewart, Yancey Thigpen and Jerome Bettis,” said Broncos cornerback Darrien Gordon. “They were being compared to Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris and John Stallworth. We heard about how tough it was to win here because the ghosts of past greats haunted the place. Where were the ghosts today?”

Baltimore sun Piece with great player quotes.  Loss described by a Steelers  fan.    Complete game on youtube

7 NWE 26-16 01/19/14
Manning Brady XV. The Broncos offense was as on fire as it had been all season, and only their redzone struggles prevented this from being a laugher.  The Patriots only forced a punt once, and the Broncos never turned it over.  The Broncos controlled the ball and the clock in this game, going 7/13 on 3rd down, with 27 first downs.   Manning put up arguably his best post season performance of his career (excluding some games against the Broncos), going 32/43 for 400 yards and 2 TDs.

A long slow TD drive by the Broncos to start the 2nd half put them up 20-3 half way through the 3rd quarter.  On the Patriot’s next drive, time was running out for the Patriots, and Belicheck decided to go for it on 4th and 3 from the Denver 29 with 3 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.  Pot Roast burst immediately up the middle and slung Brady down like a rag doll, in that games most iconic moment.

The Broncos put up another long FG drive to put them up 23-3 with 12 minutes to go.  At this point the Broncos D went prevent, and Brady put together two TD drives, pulling the Patriots within 10 with 3 minutes to go, and all 3 timeouts.  But when the onside kick failed, The Broncos put together 3 first downs, including a 23 yard pass to seal the game and the Broncos first AFCC since 1998.  Highlights

10 KAN 14-10 01/04/98

For the third consecutive year the AFC’s top seed fell in the divisional playoffs. One week after avenging last year’s playoff loss against Jacksonville, the Broncos avenged their 24–22 regular season loss in Kansas City by knocking the Chiefs out of the playoffs. Denver running back Terrell Davis ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Broncos to victory. Chiefs quarterback Elvis Grbac threw for 260 yards, but his team could only score 10 points.

For the second time in 3 years, Kansas City was eliminated as a #1 seed. The Chiefs lost despite outgaining Denver in total yards (303 to 272), first downs (18 to 16) and time of possession (31:06 to 28:54). Elway finished with 10 of 19 completions for 170 yards. Denver linemen Alfred Williams and Neil Smith (a former Chief) each had two sacks. This was the last game in the hall of fame career of Chiefs running back Marcus Allen. Highlights of the Broncos’ final defensive stand in this game are available at

15 PIT 23-16 01/17/16

Fresh of his triumphant return in San Diego, PFM and the Broncos faced off against a banged up Steelers squad.   Some great special teams plays set the Broncos up with 2 early FGs, and a late drive just before half kept the game close at 10-9.  The Broncos and Steelers traded FGs, but the Steelers seemed to have all the momentum as they drove in the 4th quarter.  Bradely Roby forced a fumble, finally giving the team the turnover and spark it needed.

The Broncos put together a 13 play drive complete with 4 First downs, including a 31 yard catch by Bernie Fowler on 3rd and 12 that concluded with a CJ Anderson TD.  The Broncos lead 20-13 with 3 minutes to go.  The D flexed their muscles again, and sacked Roethlisberger on 4th and 5.  The Broncos held onto win, and continued their magical season.


2 NWE 20-18 01/24/16

From The Associated Press: When Peyton Manning was watching games from the locker room a few months ago, none of this seemed possible. Manning, back on the field, playing the role of the most decorated game manager in history.

Manning churning his 39-year-old legs around right end for a 12-yard gain and a first down. Manning back in the Super Bowl. The strangest season of No. 18’s Hall of Fame career will play itself out all the way to the last game. Manning and the Denver Broncos are heading to the Super Bowl, thanks to his efficient offense and a big-play defense that saved a 20-18 victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Von Miller finished with 2½ sacks and an interception. The Broncos harassed Brady all day. He finished 27-for-56 for 310 yards and two picks for a passer rating of 56.4. The Broncos’ defense hit Brady at least 20 times on the day. NFL Game Day highlights are available at A condensed, full game is available at The CBS Sports’ broadcast in its entirety is available at

Published by


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