DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 9: Willis McGahee #23 of the Denver Broncos runs the ball against Eric Weddle #32 of the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 9, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Bart Young/Getty Images)
As has been mentioned in the previous articles in this series (1960s, 1970s, 1980s), Willis McGahee rushed for 100 or more yards in seven games of the 2011 season. This total nearly tripled the number of 100-yard rushers in the previous season (2010). It nearly doubled the number of 100-yard rushers in the previous two seasons combined (2009-10). In fact, it was more 100-yard games by a RB than in the previous three seasons (2008-20) combined.
In a remarkable parallel, the Denver rushing game produced more 100-yard rushers in the 1990s as the franchise had in the previous three decades combined. In fact, one rusher -- Terrell Davis -- exploded onto the scene and logged over three times as many 100-yard games as the entire franchise did in the 1960s. He had almost 50% more 100-yard games than the entire franchise in the 1970s. Davis more than doubled the number of 100-yard rushers than the entire franchise produced in the 1980s.
Take a jump with me and see who else had 100-yard games in the 1990s.
RB Bobby Humphrey picked up in 1990 exactly where he left off in 1989. He followed up a season in which he logged five 100-yard performances with four more in the first season of the new decade. Denver was coming off a season in which they won the AFC Championship only to be embarrassed in the Super Bowl by the San Francisco 49ers. Although the 1990 season started with a loss, Humphrey helped the Broncos win the next two games: they defeated Kansas City 24-23 on September 17, in a game in which Humphrey logged 132 yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns. The following week -- September 23 -- Denver hosted Seattle. Humphrey carried the ball 25 times and gained 129 yards as the Broncos went on to a 34-31 win. Then, for a third week in a row, on September 30, Humphrey added a third 100-yard game when he rushed 34 times for 177 yards and a touchdown in a game in Buffalo. Unfortunately, the Bills won that game 29-28. Humphrey's fourth 100-yard game came on the fourth consecutive week. On October 8, Denver hosted Cleveland. Cleveland eked out a win 30-29, despite Humphrey's 106 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
Two new runners emerged in 1991. Gaston Green in his fourth NFL season -- though his first with the Broncos posted a 100-yard game in the season opener at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. Green gained 116 yards on 24 carries as Denver breezed to a 45-14 win. Then on September 22, Green added a second 100-yard game. Denver hosted San Diego. This time, Green's 24 carries for 127 yards also resulted in 3 touchdowns. The Broncos downed the Chargers 27-19. A week later, on September 29, Denver traveled to Minnesota. In that game, Green rushed 26 times for 158 yards as Denver went on to win 13-6. Rookie RB Greg Lewis posted Denver's fourth 100-yard game of the season on November 3. Lewis turned 19 carries into 111 yards and a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Denver won that game 20-13. Green added two more 100-yard games before the season was over. The first came when the Raiders visited Denver. Green's 103 yards on 18 carries was not enough to carry the Broncos past the Raiders who won 17-16. Green's fifth (and Denver's final) 100-yard game came on November 17 when the Broncos faced the Chiefs in Kansas City. Green carried the ball 24 times for 133 yards and a touchdown. Denver won the game 24-20.
The next three seasons (1992, 1993 and 1994) were lean years for Broncos rushers. Denver did not have a 100-yard game by any running back in 1992. 1993 and 1994 each had two 100-yard rushers. In 1993, Rod Bernstine -- during his first season as a Bronco -- rushed for 101 yards on 23 carries in a game on October 18. The Raiders had come to Denver and Bernstine's efforts were not enough to bring the Broncos a victory. Final score: Raiders 23, Broncos 20. Two months later, on December 18, Denver traveled to Chicago to face the Bears. Bernstine rushed 21 times for 103 yards in a game that Denver won 13-3. 1994 did not look all that different from 1993. This time, though, the 100-yard rusher was Leonard Russell in his first (and only) season in the blue and orange. Russell carried the ball 24 times for 103 yards on October 9 as the Broncos defeated the Seahawks 16-9 in a game in Seattle. Russell's second 100-yard game was a 19 carry, 109 yard, 1 touchdown effort. Interestingly enough, this game was also against Seattle -- in Denver this time -- and the Broncos again won by 7 points (17-10).
The 1995 season marked a major turning point in the Denver running game as a rookie, 6th round RB exploded onto the scene with the first three of what would become a record setting number of 100-yard games in his career. Terrell Davis' first 100-yard game came on November 5, when the Arizona Cardinals came to Denver. Davis carried the ball 25 times, gained 135 yards and scored a touchdown as Denver romped 38-6. Two weeks later, on November 19, Davis added his second 100-yard game as the Broncos defeated the Chargers 30-27 in Denver. In that game, Davis carried the ball 30 times for 176 yards and a touchdown. One more week and one more 100-yard game by Davis. The Broncos traveled to Houston to take on the Oilers on November 26. Houston won the game 42-33, despite Davis' 110 yard, 1 touchdown on 19 carries effort. Third year RB Glyn Milburn had Denver's fourth 100-yard game of 1995. In a game against Seattle played in Denver on December 10, Milburn gained 131 yards on 18 carries in a 31-27 losing effort. A third Bronco -- fourth-year player Aaron Carver -- had the Broncos fifth and final 100-yard game of the season. He carried the ball 20 times for 108 yards and a touchdown on December 24 as the Broncos defeated the Raiders in Oakland 31-28.
Davis followed up his rookie season success by adding seven more 100-yard games in 1996. After gaining just 72 yards in the season opener, Davis broke free for 100-yard games each of the next four weeks. His first came in Seattle on September 8. He rushed 28 times for 111 yards as the Broncos downed the Seahawks 30-20. Then he burned Tampa Bay -- in Denver on September 15 -- for 137 yards on 22 carries and scored a fourth quarter touchdown that erased a 23-20 Tampa Bay lead and gave Denver the victory 27-23. His third 100-yard game came in a 17-14 losing effort in Kansas City on September 22. In that game, he turned 19 carries into 141 yards and scored both of Denver's touchdowns. The final game in that four-week run was in Cincinnati on September 29. Davis carried the ball 24 times for 112 yards as Denver edged the Bengals 14-10. Nearly a month later, on October 20, Davis' fifth 100-yard game helped the Broncos defeat the Baltimore Ravens 45-34 in a game at home. He gained 194 yards on 28 carries and scored two touchdowns. The last two 100-yard games of 1996 came on the road. The first was on November 17 in New England. Davis rushed 32 times for 154 yards and scored two touchdowns in a 34-8 Denver victory. Then, on December 1, his 26 carry, 106 yard, 1 touchdown performance helped the Broncos down the Seahawks 34-7. Denver ended the 1996 season with a 13-3-0 record and many people expected them to go to the Super Bowl that year. Unfortunately, they were upset by the second-year franchise Jacksonville Jaguars 30-27 in a Divisonal round playoff game.
The Broncos came into the 1997 season believing they had something to prove after their upset loss in the 1996 playoffs. Prove it they did, as Davis' ten regular season 100-yard games plus four 100-yard playoff games were added to a 100-yard performance by Derek Loville helped propel the Broncos not only to the Super Bowl but also to their first ever Super Bowl win. Davis started the Broncos out strong, rushing for 100+ yards in each of the first four games of the season. On August 31, he carried the ball 26 times for 101 yards and a touchdown in a 19-3 victory over Kansas City in Denver. The Broncos went on the road to Seattle for the second game of the season. Davis' 107 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown helped Denver win 35-14. Davis' third 100-yard game came back at home on September 14 when the Broncos hosted the St. Louis Rams. Davis added 103 yards on 21 carries as Denver downed St. Louis 35-14. On September 21, Davis had his fourth consecutive 100-yard game, rushing 27 times for 215 yards and a touchdown as the Broncos defeated the visiting Cincinnati Bengals 38-20. Davis had two 100-yard games in October. The first came at home against New England. His 32 carries for 171 yards and two touchdowns helped Denver defeat the Patriots 34-13. Then, on October 26, in Buffalo, he carried the ball 42 times for 207 yards and a touchdown as the Broncos edged the Bills 23-20. Davis' final four regular season 100-yard games all came in November. On November 2, when the Seahawks came to town, he gained 101 yards on 21 carries to help the Broncos win 30-27. A week later, on November 9, he recorded 21 carries for 104 yards against the visiting Carolina Panthers in a 34-0 Broncos win. Denver traveled to Kansas City on November 16. In this game, Davis' 34 carry, 127 yard effort was not enough to secure a Denver victory and the Chiefs won 24-22. It was a different story when the Chargers came to town on November 30. This time, Davis rushed 26 times for 178 yards and a touchdown that helped the Broncos win 38-28.
Denver entered the playoffs following the 1997 season as a Wild Card team. In the Wild Card round, they gained revenge against the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 42-17 win, assisted by Davis' 31 carry, 184 yard, 2 touchdown performance on December 27. In that same game, RB Derek Loville -- in his first season as a Bronco -- added 103 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. A week later, on January 4, 1998, in the Divisional round, The Broncos upset the AFCW winners -- the Kansas City Chiefs -- 14-10. Both of the Broncos touchdowns came from Davis who gained 101 yards on 25 carries. In the AFC Championship game on January 11, 1998, on the road in Pittsburgh, Davis added 101 yards on 25 carries and scored one touchdown -- to open the scoring in the game. Denver won the game 24-21 to to to their fifth Super Bowl, SB XXXII. In that Super Bowl, Davis had 30 rushes for 157 yards and three touchdowns. His first -- a 1-yard run in the first quarter -- tied the score at 7-7. His second came in the third and broke a 17-17 tie. Davis' final touchdown of the game was largely a "gimme" by the Packers late in the fourth quarter. Green Bay had elected to let the Broncos score quickly in order to preserve time on the clock. Ultimately, Davis' touchdown ended up as the game-winning score and the Broncos won their first Super Bowl 31-24.
As if fourteen 100-yard games were not enough in the 1997 season (plus the playoffs), Davis followed that feat up with another fourteen 100-yard games in the 1998 season (eleven in the regular season and three in the playoffs) as the Broncos stormed out to a 14-2-0 record and went on to win their second consecutive Super Bowl, 34-19 over the Atlanta Falcons. Davis waited until the second week of the season to start his run of 100-yard games. Starting on September 13, with a 23 rush, 191 yard, 3 touchdown performance against the visiting Dallas Cowboys -- and a 42-23 Denver win -- Davis had a streak of seven consecutive games (and incidentally, a string of seven consecutive wins by the Broncos) with 100 or more rushing yards. The next week, on September 20, Denver defeated the Raiders in Oakland. Davis contributed 104 yards on 28 carries in that game. The third consecutive 100-yard game came in Washington -- a 38-16 Broncos victory. Davis carried the ball 21 times for 119 yards and a touchdown. Denver downed the visiting Philadelphia Eagles 41-16 as Davis notched his fourth consecutive 100-yard game with a 20 carry, 168 yard, 2 touchdown performance. The fifth 100-yard game came in Seattle as the Broncos won 21-16 on the road. Davis carried the ball 30 times for 208 yards and a touchdown in that victory. October 25 saw the Broncos romp over the Jacksonville Jaguars 37-24, powered by Davis' 136 yards and 3 touchdowns on 31 carries. The final game of this seven game run came on November when Denver traveled to Cincinnati. Against the Bengals, Davis recorded 27 carries, 149 yards and 2 touchdowns as Denver won 33-26. Davis added four more 100-yard games in the final eight games of the season. On November 16, in Kansas City, he carried the ball 18 times for 111 yards and a touchdown in a 30-7 Denver victory. Six days later on November 22, Denver downed the visiting Raiders 40-14, helped out by Davis' 31 carries for 162 yards and a touchdown. On December 13, the Broncos carried a 13-0-0 record into New York to play the Giants. Davis' 28 carry, 147 yard, 1 touchdown performance was not enough to secure a Denver win as the Giants upset the unbeaten Broncos 20-16. Davis' final 100-yard game of the regular season came on December 27 as Denver downed the Seattle Seahawks 28-21. In that game, Davis gained 178 yards on 29 carries.
Davis added a 100-yard game in each of the three post-season games that followed the 1998 season. In a Divisional round game against Miami, Davis rushed 21 times, gained 199 yards and scored 2 touchdowns as the Broncos dominated the Dolphins 38-3. Denver hosted the New York Jets for the AFC Championship game -- a 23-10 Broncos victory. In that game, Davis carried the ball 32 times for 167 yards and 1 touchdown. Denver next faced the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. Davis' 25 carries for 102 yards helped the Broncos to a 34-19 romp over the Falcons.
A new 100-yard rusher emerged in 1999. Olandis Gary was no Terrell Davis, but he did log four 100-yard games that year. The first was a 37 carry, 124 yard, 1 touchdown performance that helped Denver defeat Green Bay 31-10 on October 17. When the Broncos traveled to San Diego on November 7, Gary gained 108 yards and scored 2 touchdowns on 30 carries in a 33-17 Denver win. Davis added his third 100-yard game on December 19 in Denver. This time, the Seahawks were the victims, allowing Gary to gain 183 yards on 22 carries as the Broncos edged Seattle 36-30. Gary's last 100-yard game came on the road in Detroit. Gary's 29 carry, 185 yard, 1 touchdown performance helped the Denver to a 17-7 victory.
By the Numbers
|Total # of Games||160||596|
|Games w/100-yard rusher||59||113|
|Record in those games||51-8-0||91-21-1|
Records Against Opponents
|St. Louis Rams||1-0-0||1-0-0||0-0-0||1-0-0||1-0-0||0-0-0|
|New York Jets||1-0-0||1-0-0||0-0-0||3-2-0||3-1-0||0-1-0|
|New York Giants||0-1-0||0-0-0||0-1-0||1-2-0||0-0-0||1-2-0|
Next Up: 100-yard rushers of the 1990s