Round 6. 8 games left.
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.
9 PIT 34-21 12/24/77
4 OAK 20-17 01/01/78
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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-_m4F_Ru4E. The full game is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sx5FS2iSmE.
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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3p85vWJ1L0.
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.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NmbtaU2TkE. 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.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-_m4F_Ru4E.
[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.]
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?”
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 athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYV8rZ2bPwQ.
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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOaoW7hhD6I. A condensed, full game is available athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpSlPzRZEYs. The CBS Sports’ broadcast in its entirety is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIXb2tx3kRg.