In the fifth of Thin Air’s Rate Your Hate series, we consider the teams of the NFC South.
Teams of the NFC South aren’t as heralded in NFL history as teams in most other divisions. Yet, while they play in the opposite conference, the Broncos share a fair amount of responsibility in denying members of that conference some of that heraldry.
The Falcons are yet another team that the Broncos were undefeated against when John Elway was on the team as the quarterback, tallying up a 6-0 record. One of those wins, of course, was highly substantial: Super Bowl XXXIII. However, before and after Elway as a player, the Falcons have proven capable of getting in the Broncos’ way. Both before and after Elway played, the Falcons have held a 3-2 edge in both periods. This includes last season’s home loss to the eventual NFC champions.
But overall, the Broncos hold a 9-6 advantage in record over the Falcons.
In the short time the Panthers have existed, the Broncos have dominated their series against them. Only a Week 15 loss in 2008, that marked the beginning of the end for Mike Shanahan in Denver, prevents an undefeated record from being on the books. It began with a shutout in 1997, and continued with a close win in 2004 decided by a bonehead move by Panthers offensive linemen Matt Willig. He picked up and threw a flag for a false start penalty, tacking on an additional 15 yards that took Carolina out of range for a potential game tying field goal.
When the brash Cam Newton arrived in Carolina, the Broncos have been right there to humiliate his pride. In 2012, they made a complete and utter mockery of Newton’s Superman move in a 36-14 victory. He then tried to shift to The Dab as a celebration move, but that too was mocked at the biggest stage of them all, Super Bowl 50. Newton failed to get revenge in 2016, as well, in a close Broncos victory that sets the all-time record at 5-1–and 3-0 against Newton.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints are another team that the Broncos are almost flawless against, going 9-2 against overall. Only a pair of Jim Mora victories put a blemish on the books for the Broncos. Still, in recent years, the Broncos have had some memorable games against New Orleans. In 2008 the all offense/no defense version of the Broncos outshot Drew Brees in a 34-32 victory. In 2012, Manning vs. Brees was deemed important enough to garner a Sunday night appearance in Denver, but it instead quickly turned into a 34-14 Broncos blowout. And last season, it appeared the Saints were going to inflict a 24-23 heartbreak on the Broncos with a late Brees touchdown…only to have the heartbreak turn right back on the Saints with the extra point blocked by Justin Simmons and taken back the other way by Will Parks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs were actually division rivals of the Broncos as a member of the AFC West for the 1976 season–thus they were one of the teams to contribute to Tampa Bay’s infamous 0-26 start with a 48-13 victory in Denver. That start became a trend, as the Broncos have garnered a 7-2 overall record over the Bucs. Even more remarkable is that the Broncos’ terrible record in Florida can’t be blamed on Tampa Bay–even there they hold a 2-1 record over the Bucs. That included a solid 27-7 victory in Tampa last season that ended in a deluge.
What has to undeniably be the best Broncos/Bucs moment, however, was in 2012, Peyton Manning throwing a touchdown to defensive lineman Mitch Unrein.