For thoughts on the game from a Cardinals perspective, visit Revenge of the Birds!!
The pickin's for great games through the years were slim to say the least. Since our first match up with the Cardinals in 1973 ended in a tie, the Broncos are undefeated against the Cardinals in the regular season. An almost perfect 9-0-1, which included two shut outs. In those ten games, the Broncos averaged nearly 30 points per game while the Cardinals barely surpassed 10 per game.
In my review of the history of this rivalry, I found two games that stood out to me. The first was in Cutler's rookie season where he got his first victory as a starting quarterback by demolishing his first round counterpart Matt Leinart, 37-20. Though the game was hugely exciting to us fans who were hungry for a playoff birth that was not to be, I decided to pick the other game on my list of two to focus on. How much better can you get than to pick one of the 47 4th quarter comebacks engineered by the venerable John Elway.
In the second to last game of the season, the Broncos were battling it out with the Buffalo Bills for homefield advantage. The Broncos were 10-4 and facing the woeful Cardinals(4-10) in Mile High Stadium. Elway once said that the worst games to lose were the ones your were heavily favored to win. This was one such game.
John Elway and the Broncos game out firing on all cylinders, jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the first half. However, the Cardinals came to play and had their way with Elway, picking him off three times during the game. The game was a classic back and forth struggle for field position and costly turnovers by Elway kept the Cardinals in the game.
The Broncos took a 17-6 lead in the third quarter when things really started to fall apart for the Broncos. The Cardinals, spurred by turnovers and the smell of an upset, run up 13 unanswered points to take the lead late in the game 19-17.
Of course, this was where Elway showed his true greatness. He played horrible for third and a half quarters and then for some damn reason, something would click and he would realize he was running out of time to win the game. With normal quarterbacks, the game ends and the team loses. With John Elway, the team rallies and makes the plays it needs to win the game. Elway marched his team down the field and ran the ball in from four yards out to put the Broncos up 24-19, securing the AFC West Division Title as well.
1991 was a special year for Elway and the Broncos. It was a year of comebacks for Elway and it was also the year that got away from them. 1991 should have been the year that Elway made his 4th appearance in a Super Bowl. Granted, it probably would have ended in another defeat, but we'll never really know what would have happened...