When the Broncos travel to Foxborough, Massachusetts to take on the New England Patriots this coming Sunday, it will be only the fifth time in franchise history that Denver has played a game on October 7. The Broncos will attempt to ride the emotion of a major smack down of the rival Raiders to a victory over a team that has been a major stumbling block in recent seasons. Perhaps they'll also be able to ride a tradition that favors winning on this date -- Denver holds a 3-2 record in games played on October 7. Let's take a look at those five games.
10-7-1973: Denver@Kansas City, Kansas City won 16-14
The very first October 7 game came in what would be Denver's first ever winning season. Unfortunately, this particular game was not a win and put the Broncos in the position of having to dig themselves out of a deep hole at 1-3-0.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Chiefs struck first in the second quarter with a field goal. Denver answered with a 50-yard touchdown pass from QB Charley Johnson to RB Floyd Little. Kansas City added a second field goal in that second quarter, so the Broncos lead was one point (7-6) going into the locker room for the half. The third quarter ended with the Chiefs leading 13-7. For a time, it looked like the Broncos might win after RB Joe Dawkins' 72-yard run for a touchdown gave Denver a 14-13 lead in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, Kansas City was able to get both a field goal and the victory.
10-7-1979: San Diego@Denver, Denver won 7-0
Six years later, the Broncos would again play a division rival on October 7. This time it was the Chargers who came to the Mile High city sporting a 4-1-0 record. Denver trailed San Diego by a game with a 3-2-0 record. The score would suggest that this was a defense battle, since the only score was a 3-yard rushing touchdown by Bronco QB Norris Weese in the third quarter. Yet, this perception is not entirely accurate.
Whereas the Bronco defense held the Chargers to just 69 rushing yards, it also surrendered 305 passing yards to San Diego. What held the Chargers in check were three interceptions -- two by DB Billy Thompson and one by LB Joe Rizzo. Denver on the other hand, had only 66 passing yards -- due in large part to giving up four sacks, but the Broncos were able to rush for 160 yards. Denver had just one fumble, but were also penalized seven times. The game was a study in contrasts. The Broncos eventually won and went on to their third straight post season appearance.
10-7-1984: Denver@Detroit, Denver won 28-7
This win over the Lions on October 7 was part of a ten-game winning streak that allowed the Broncos to open the 1984 season with a 11-1-0 record. Sporting a 4-1-0 record, Denver traveled to Detroit to take on a 1-4-0 Lions team.
The Broncos dominated this game from the beginning. RB Sammy Winder scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter and DE Rulon Jones added a 5-yard fumble return to give Denver a 14-0 lead at the end of one quarter of play. The Lions got a touchdown in the second quarter but QB John Elway connected with WR Steve Watson for a 42-yard touchdown pass to give the Broncos a 21-7 halftime lead. After a scoreless third quarter, Denver LB Ken Woodard returned an interception 27 yards for Denver's final score.
As a footnote: Denver's defense shined in this game, sacking Detroit passers six times and intercepting seven passes and recovering three fumbles.
10-7-2001: Kansas City@Denver, Denver won 20-6
Denver faced off against Kansas City for a second time on October 7 in 2001. This time, the Broncos won. Denver came into the game with a 2-1-0 record and hopes of going to the post season once again.
Denver RB Mike Anderson opened the scoring with a 62-yard, first quarter touchdown run. The Chiefs countered with a second quarter field goal. Broncos K Jason Elam answered with a 48-yard field goal to give Denver a 10-3 lead. Kansas City added a second field goal in the quarter to go into the locker room down by four points (10-6). Elam added a field goal in the third quarter to give Denver a 13-6 lead and QB Brian Griese connected with WR Rod Smith on a 4-yard touchdown pass to give the Broncos the final margin of 20-6.
Denver' defense once again dominated during the win, sacking Kansas City QB Trent Green four times and Denver DB Deltha O'Neal intercepted Green four times.
10-7-2007: San Diego@Denver, San Diego won 41-3
To say that this game was an embarrassment would be a gross understatement. The 2-2-0 Broncos were hosting the 1-3-0 Chargers. This game turned out to be simply a case of the Denver offense not being effective and turning the ball over three times.
San Diego scored one offensive touchdown in the first quarter and added a second on a fumble return to take a 14-0 lead at the end of one quarter. A Chargers field goal in the second quarter made it 17-0. The Broncos got on the board in the second quarter with a 30-yard field goal by Jason Elam. Sadly, this would prove to be all the scoring Denver would do. San Diego took a 20-3 lead at half and made it 34-3 by the end of the third quarter. The Chargers added one more touchdown in the fourth for the final margin.
San Diego played ball control in this game when the Broncos' defense surrendered 214 rushing yards to go along with 270 passing yards. Denver also lost the turnover battle 3-0.
Here's to hoping that this year's October 7 contest follows the pattern of the middle three of Denver's five October 7 games rather than the first or the last.