DENVER, CO - JANUARY 08: Willis McGahee #23 of the Denver Broncos points with the ball after a run against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
There is a tendency among Broncos fans to view the 2000/2010 Denver Broncos through the lens of the 2006-2010 seasons. During those seasons, the Broncos went 36-44-0. They had five consecutive seasons in which they failed to make the post season. What is often forgotten in that run of bad luck is that the early part of the 2000s was not quite as bad.
|Year||Sea. Record||OA Record||Notes|
|2000||11-5-0||11-5-0||2nd in AFCW; clinched the #5 seed outright; lost 21-3 to BAL Ravens in Wild Card round|
|2001||8-8-0||19-13-0||3rd in AFCW; missed the playoffs|
|2002||9-7-0||28-20-0||2nd in AFCW; won tie-breaker with MIA for #6 seed; lost 41-10 to IND in Wild Card round|
|2003||10-6-0||38-26-0||2nd in AFCW; lost tie-breaker with MIA for 2nd Wild Card spot|
|2004||10-6-0||48-32-0||2nd in AFCW; clinched playoff spot; lost tie-breaker for #5 seed to the NYJ; lost 49-24 to IND in the Wild Card round|
|2005||13-3-0||61-35-0||1st in AFCW; won 27-13 over NE in Divisional round; lost 34-17 to PIT in AFC Championship|
Denver also excelled during the 2000/2010s when it came to runners who managed 100+ games. In point of fact, the Broncos runners had more (both in sheer number and in percentage of games) 100-yard rushers than any previous decade.
|Decade||100-yard games||Total Games||% 100-yarders|
Admittedly, 2008-2010 was the low point of the decade, but Willis McGahee appears to have gotten the Denver running game back on track.
Take a jump with me and see who had 100-yard games in the 2000/2010s.
The decade of the 2000s started out well with Terrell Davis and Mike Anderson combining for seven 100-yard games during the 2000 season. Anderson started it off on September 10 in a Broncos 42-14 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Anderson's 131 yards and 2 touchdowns on 31 carries helped secure the win. A week later, the Broncos traveled to Oakland. Anderson carried the ball 32 times and gained 187 yards to help Denver defeat the Raiders 33-24. Anderson added his third 100-yard game on October 15 when the Broncos defeated the Cleveland Browns, in Denver, 44-10. Anderson scored a touchdown as part of a 20-carry, 103-yard performance. Terrell Davis got back into the 100-yard performance column when his 33-carry, 115-yard, 1-touchdown performance helped the Broncos defeat the New York Jets 30-23 in New York. Anderson's next three 100-yard games came on consecutive weekends: November 26, December 3 and December 10. The first came in a game in Seattle. Anderson rushed 30 times for 195 yards and 2 touchdowns to help Denver defeat the Seahawks 38-31. This was followed by a road game against New Orleans. Anderson torched the Saints for 251 yards and 4 touchdowns on 37 carries as the Broncos went on to win 38-23. The last 100-yard game by Anderson came against the Seahawks again -- this time in Denver. He rushed 29 times for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns to help Denver down Seattle 31-24.
The 2001 season saw a sharp drop-off in the number of 100-yard games. There were only four which were evenly split between Terrell Davis and Mike Anderson. Davis had the first 100-yard game in 2001 when he carried the ball 21 times for 101 yards as the Broncos defeated the visiting New York Giants 31-20 on September 10. A month later, Anderson logged a 100-yard game on October 7 when Denver downed the visiting Kansas City Chiefs 20-6 assisted by Anderson's 155 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. On November 22, Anderson added his second 100-yard game of the season in Dallas. Anderson rushed 33 times for 118 yards and a touchdown as the Broncos beat the Cowboys 26-24. Davis had the fourth and final 100-yard game of the season on December 9 when the Broncos hosted the Seattle Seahawks. His 109 yards on 19 carries helped Denver win the game 20-7.
In the 2nd round of the 2002 NFL Draft, the Broncos selected a running back out of the University of Miami (Florida) named Clinton Portis. He brought a resurgence to Denver's running game by logging eight 100-yard games in twelve starts as a rookie. The first came on September 22 when Denver hosted Buffalo. Portis ran 18 times for 103 yards and a touchdown as Denver won 28-23. The Broncos beat the Chargers 26-9 on October 6 in Denver, powered in part by Portis' 102 yards on 20 carries. Denver went on the road to play New England on October 27. In that game, Portis rushed 26 times for 111 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Broncos downed the Patriots 24-16. Portis' fourth 100-yard game came as Denver defeated the Seahawks 31-9 in Seattle on November 17. He added 136 yards on 23 carries to Denver's attack. Portis' fifth 100-yard game was also his second against the Chargers, this time in San Deigo on December 1. He carried the ball 23 times, gained 159 yards and scored 2 touchdowns. Sadly, this was not enough to keep the Chargers from winning the game 30-27 in overtime. A week later, on December 8, the Broncos traveled to New York to play the Jets. Portis gained 103 yards on 24 carries in a 19-13 losing effort. He recorded his third consecutive 100-yard game on December 15 when Denver hosted Kansas City. Portis' 21-carry, 130-yard, 3-touchdown performance helped the Broncos down the Chiefs 31-24. His final 100-yard game of the season came on December 29 when the Arizona Cardinals came to Denver. Portis rushed for a career high 228 yards on 24 carries and scored 2 touchdowns as the Broncos rolled to an easy 37-7 victory.
Portis outdid his rookie season in 2003 when he logged ten 100-yard games. Rookie running back Quentin Griffin added a 100-yard game late in the season to give the Broncos a total of eleven 100-yard games in 2003. Portis started the season with two consecutive 100-yard games in the team's first two games. On September 7, he rushed 24 times for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns s the Broncos defeated the Bengals in Cincinnati 30-10. The following week, September 14, Denver traveled to San Diego where Portis' 129 yards on 12 carries helped seal a 37-13 victory. His third and fourth 100-yard performances also came on the road, in Kansas City on October 15 and in Minnesota on October 19. Against the Chiefs, Portis carried the ball 23 times for 141 yards and a touchdown but Kansas City edged Denver 24-23. The Vikings game was also a loss (28-20) in which Portis gained 117 yards and scored a touchdown on 25 rushes. On November 3, Portis rushed 26 times for 111 yards and a touchdown against the visiting New England Patriots. Sadly, Denver fell 30-26 in that game. Portis helped the Broncos get a win with his sixth 100-yard game of the season game of the season on November 16. Denver was hosting San Diego and breezed to a 37-8 victory, helped in part by Portis' 106 yards on 25 carries. A week later, on November 23, the Broncos hosted the Bears. Chicago won 19-10 despite Portis' gaining 165 yards on just 14 carries. Portis continued his dominating rushing attack on November 30 when the Broncos traveled to Oakland. His 34-carry, 170-yard, 2-touchdown performance contributed to a 22-8 Denver win. Portis gained revenge against the Chiefs when Kansas City visited Denver on December 7. In that meeting, Portis turned 22 carries into 218 yards and 5 touchdowns as the Broncos downed the Chiefs 45-27. His final 100-yard game of the season came on December 14 when the Browns visited Denver. Portis rushed 38 times for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Broncos edged Cleveland 23-20. Rookie running back Quentin Griffin added one more 100-yard game for Denver on December 21 in Indianapolis. His 136 yards on 28 carries helped the Broncos defeat the Colts 31-17.
Sadly, 2004 -- though it had a strong showing of 100-yard performances with eight -- marked the beginning of a long decline in 100-yard performances for the Broncos over the next seven seasons. Quentin Griffin had the first 100-yard game on September 12 in a home game against Kansas City. He rushed 23 times for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns and helped the Broncos win 34-24. The next six 100-yard games came on the legs of fourth-year running back Reuben Droughns. His first three came on consecutive weekends (October 30 - Carolina at Denver; October 17 Denver at Oakland; October 25 Denver at Cincinnati). Against the Panthers, Droughns rushed 30 times for 193 yards in a 20-17 Denver victory. The Broncos torched the Raiders 31-3, helped along by Droughns' 176 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries. His 24 carry 110 yard performance against the Bengals was not enough to help the Broncos win and Cincinnati carried the day 23-10. After an "off week" of only 49 yards, Droughns came back for three more 100-yard games in consecutive games (if you ignore the bye week on November 14). On November 7, Droughns carried the ball 29 times for 120 yards against the visiting Houston Texans in a 31-13 Denver win. Against the New Orleans Saints, in New Orleans on November 21, he gained 166 yards and scored a touchdown on 28 carries to help Denver to a second straight win 34-13. Droughns' 28-rush, 102-yard, 1-touchdown performance against the visiting Oakland Raiders on November 28 went for naught as Oakland edged the Broncos 25-24. The final 100-yard game of the season was a 123-yard, 1 touchdown on 17 carries performance by rookie running back Tatum Bell who helped the Broncos defeat the visiting Miami Dolphins 20-17.
Denver's 100-yard games dropped from eleven in 2003 to eight in 2004. It dropped two more games to six in 2005. Fifth-year running back Mike Anderson had a resurgence as Denver's leading rusher and added four more 100-yard games to his resume. Second-year running back Tatum Bell added three more. Anderson was the first when, on an October 2 road game against Jacksonville, he rushed 23 times for 115 yards as Denver defeated the Jaguars 20-7. Bell had the next two -- on October 9 in a 21-19 home win against Washington and on October 16 when Denver down the visiting Patriots 28-20. Against the Redskins, he rushed 12 times for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the Patriots' game, Bell had 1 touchdown and 114 yards on 13 carries. Anderson returned to the forefront with two more 100-yard performances. On October 23, he rushed 24 times for 120 yards and a touchdown in a 24-23 losing effort on a road game in New York versus the Giants. The following week, his 21 carries for 126 yards and a touchdown helped the Broncos defeat the visiting Philadelphia Eagles 49-21. In that same game against the Eagles, Bell added 107 yards and 2 touchdowns on 14 carries. Anderson had Denver's final 100-yard game of the 2005 season, a 27-0 Denver victory over the visiting New York Jets. In that game, Anderson rushed 23 times for 113 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Broncos saw their running backs produce another six 100-yard games in 2006. Tatum Bell had five of those performances while the sixth was delivered by rookie running back Mike Bell. Tatum's first 100-yard game came in an 18-10 opening game loss in St. Louis. He carried the ball 15 times for 103 yards in the loss. Two weeks later, on September 24, Tatum rushed 27 times for 123 yards as the Broncos downed the visiting Patriots 17-7. A month later, on October 22 when Denver went on the road to Cleveland, Tatum added 115 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries in a game that the Broncos won 17-7. Mike Bell's 15-carry, 136-yard, 2-touchdown performance on October 29 helped Denver edge the visiting Indianapolis Colts 34-31. The last two 100-yard games came on December 3 (a 23-20 loss to Seattle in Denver) and December 10 (a 48-20 loss to the Chargers in San Diego). In the first of those games, Tatum carried the ball 23 times for 133 yards while in the second he gained 116 yards on 17 carries.
The Broncos' running game took another step backwards in 2007, logging only five 100-yard performances. Three of these performances came on the legs of seventh-year running back Travis Henry in his first -- and only -- season as a Bronco. The other two were the result of the efforts of rookie running back Selvin Young. Henry's performances all came in the month of September. In the opening game, on September 9 in Buffalo, Henry's 23 carries for 139 yards helped the Broncos to a 15-14 victory. The second 100-yard game came for Henry against the Raiders in Denver on September 16. His 26 rushes for 128 yards contributed to a Denver victory -- 23-20 in overtime. The Broncos traveled to Indianapolis on September 30, where Henry's 131 yards on 26 carries were not enough to help Denver avoid a 38-20 defeat. Young had his first 100-yard game on November 11 when Denver visited Kansas City. In that game, Young rushed 20 times for 109 yards and a touchdown as Denver went on to win 27-11. Four weeks later, the Chiefs were victimized by Young again, on December 9 in Denver. This time he turned 17 carries into 156 yards as the Broncos breezed to a 41-7 victory.
Denver saw a major decline in 100-yard games as the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons each saw just two 100-yard performances. In 2008, Michael Pittman -- in his only season as a Bronco -- had one on October 12. He rushed for 109 yards on 20 carries as the Broncos lost to the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars. Rookie Peyton Hillis had the second 2008 100-yard game on November 30 against the New York Jets in New York. Newly acquired running back Correll Buckhalter had both of Denver's 2009 100-yard games. The first came in Oakland on September 27 where he turned 14 carries into 108 yards. Denver won the game 23-3. Buckhalter's second 100-yard game also came on the road -- on December 6 in Kansas City. Against the Chiefs, his 12-carry, 113-yard performance contributed to a 44-13 Denver victory. Second-year running back Knowshon Moreno logged both of Denver's 100-yard games in 2010. Both came late in the season and both came against the Kansas City Chiefs. The first came on November 14 in Denver. His 22 carries for 106 yards were part of a 49-29 Broncos win. On December 5, in Kansas City, he performed better rushing for 161 yards on 23 carries. Unfortunately, the Chiefs walked away with a 10-6 victory.
The 2011 season saw a rebirth of the Broncos' running attack. The Broncos saw eight 100-yard performances in seven games. Newcomer Willis McGahee recorded seven of those 100-yard performances while the eighth was logged by quarterback Tim Tebow. McGahee's first came on September 18 when the Cincinnati Bengals came to Denver. He carried the ball 28 times for 101 yards and a touchdown in a game that the Broncos won 24-22. The second came in a losing effort when Denver lost to the Packers 49-23 in Green Bay. In that game, McGahee rushed 15 times for 103 yards. His third 100-yard game also occurred in a loss -- 29-24 to the Chargers in Denver on October 9. That time, he turned 16 carries into 125 yards. On November 6, McGahee's 2 touchdowns and 163 yards on 20 carries helped the Broncos defeat the Raiders 38-24 in Oakland. Quarterback Tim Tebow added 118 yards on 13 carries in that same Oakland game. Two of McGahee's last three 100-yard games came in Denver wins -- 16-13 over the Chargers in San Diego on November 27 and 35-32 over the Vikings in Minnesota on December 4. In the San Diego game, McGahee rushed 23 times for 117 yards while in the Vikings' game he turned 20 carries into 111 yards and a touchdown. His final 100-yard game of the season came in the season finale on January 1 against the Chiefs in Denver. McGahee carried the ball 28 times for 145 yards in a 7-3 loss.
By the Numbers
|Total # Games||192||788|
|Games w/100-yard Rusher||68||181|
|Record in 100-yard Games||50-18-0||140-40-1|
100-yard Games (Players)
100-yard Games (Opponents)
|New York Jets||3-1-0||1-0-0||2-1-0||6-3-0||4-1-0||2-2-0|
|New York Giants||1-1-0||1-0-0||0-1-0||2-3-0||1-0-0||1-3-0|
|Tennessee (as the Houston Oilers)||0-0-0||0-0-0||0-0-0||5-1-0||2-0-0||3-1-0|
A Few Other 100-yard Rusher Facts
The Broncos have had at least one 100-yard rusher versus every team in the NFL. The Broncos have not lost a game in which they had a 100-yard rusher in contests against eleven teams: Washington 4-0, Arizona 3-0, Pittsburgh 3-0-1, New Orleans 2-0, Carolina 2-0, Dallas 2-0, Atlanta 2-0, Tampa Bay 2-0, Detroit 2-0, Houston Texans 1-0 and Baltimore Ravens 1-0. The greatest number of 100-yard performances against a single opponent is twenty-one - versus the Kansas City Chiefs. Indianapolis and Minnesota are the only two opponents against whom the Broncos have had a 100-yard rusher in games in Denver and the Broncos have not won the game. St. Louis is the only opponent against whom Denver posted a 100-yard rusher when on the road and the Broncos did not win the game. The New York Giants are the only team against whom the Broncos have a losing record in games in which they had a 100-yard rusher.
Most 100-yard games in a season
Most Consecutive 100-yard Games
|Terrell Davis||4||1997 (3 in reg season 1 in post season)|
Most 100-yard Games by a Rookie
Hope you've enjoyed this series and are becoming excited about the start of Training Camp and the Pre-season. Until next time: