Last week, we looked at the four games which the Broncos had played on September 9th prior to beating Pittsburgh this season. We noted that all were away games and that the Broncos went 2-2-0 during those games. We also noted three of those games were season openers and that the Broncos went 2-1-0 in those openers.
This week, we will take a brief look at those games which the Broncos have played on September 17th, as they prepare to travel to Atlanta for a Monday Night Football game on September 17, 2012. There have been seven games played on this date, and interestingly enough, one was even a season opener.
Let's see how the Broncos have fared on September 17th.
The Broncos were coming off of a 4-10-0 season in 1966. They began the 1967 season with a 26-21 victory over Boston. This was followed by a 0-51 shellacking by the Raiders to set up a match with the Miami Dolphins, in Miami, on September 17.
The Broncos started slowly, falling behind 0-7 at the end of the first quarter and 0-14 at the half. A 1-yard third quarter run by Wendell Hayes got Denver on the board, making the score 7-14. Miami extended its lead to 7-21 before the Broncos began to close the gap. A 2-yard third quarter run by Bo Hickey made the score 14-21, then a second run (5 yards in the fourth quarter) by Hickey tied the score at 21-21. Sadly, the Broncos would give up two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter leading to the final margin of 21-35.
An interesting footnote to this game is that Miami's Abner Haynes (who had been with the Broncos during the 1966 and 1967 seasons) burned his former team for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns.
9-17-1972: Houston Oilers@Denver, Denver won 30-17, Season Opener
This was a relatively late season opener which saw the Broncos trying to rebound from a 4-9-1 season in 1971. The Houston Oilers had also finished 4-9-1 and so both teams were looking to make a statement as they began a new year.
The Broncos fairly dominated this game statistically with QB Steve Ramsey throwing for 261 yards and a touchdown while the Broncos rushing attacked compiled 239 yards and 2 touchdowns (led by Floyd Little's 101 yards). The score was less indicative of the Broncos control of the game. Denver led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter, but only 17-10 at the half. Two Jim Turner field goals in the third quarter made it 23-10 at the end of three quarters of play. The Oilers closed the gap in the fourth quarter making the score 23-17, but a 66-yard touchdown run by Billy Van Heusen made it 30-17 and sealed the victory for Denver.
9-17-1978: San Diego@Denver, Denver won 27-14
After making it to the Super Bowl in the 1977 season, expectations were riding high for the 1978 season. However, splitting the first two games of the 1978 campaign gave the Broncos a rocky 1-1-0 start. On September 17, they hosted the San Diego Chargers for the third game of the season.
The Broncos started the scoring on a 2-yard pass from Norris Weese to Ron Egloff and held a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. San Diego's Dan Fouts took control of the second quarter, scoring on a 2-yard run and throwing a 20-yard touchdown pass. This gave the Chargers a 7-point lead at the half. The second half, however, belonged to the Broncos. A 1-yard run by Lonnie Perrin made the score 13-14 (the extra point attempt failed) in the third quarter. Denver would score twice in the fourth quarter to win the game. The first score came when Rick Upchurch returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown, making the score 20-14. Later in that quarter, Perrin had a 21-yard touchdown run for the final margin of 27-14.
An interesting footnote: Total yards for each team was virtually dead even with the Chargers having 315 total yards to the Broncos 314.
9-17-1990: Kansas City@Denver, Denver won 24-23
Denver entered the 1990 season as the defending AFC Champions. They started their title defense with a 5-point loss to the Raiders in Los Angeles in their season opener. On September 17, they hosted the Kansas City Chiefs in the second game of the season. The Broncos would face former Denver quarterback Steve DeBerg in this contest (DeBerg would go on to torch the Broncos' secondary for 395 yards and 2 touchdowns).
The Chiefs scored first taking a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. Denver answered with a touchdown on a 37-yard run by Bobby Humphrey to take a 7-3 lead. The Chiefs likewise opened the scoring in the second quarter with another field goal that trimmed Denver's lead to 7-6. Another Humphrey touchdown run (6 yards this time) moved the lead to 14-6. Kansas City added a third field goal to make the score 14-9 at the half. In the third quarter, John Elway ran 2 yards for a touchdown to give Denver a strong 21-9 lead. However, DeBerg hit Chiefs WR Stephone Paige twice in the fourth quarter (16 yards and 83 yards) for touchdowns to give Kansas City a 23-21 lead. The Broncos got the ball back with 1:44 on the clock. Denver rode the arm of John Elway from 1-10-DEN17 to 1-GOAL-KC4 with 0:04 left on the clock. Broncos kicker David Treadwell connected on a 22-yard field goal attempt as time expired to give the Broncos a dramatic 24-23 victory.
9-17-1995: Washington@Denver, Denver won 38-31
The Broncos entered the 1995 season looking to improve upon a 7-9-0, 4th place in the AFC West finish in 1994. Denver opened the 1995 season with a 22-7 victory over the Buffalo Bills. This was followed by a 21-31 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Thus the stage was set for a showdown between two 1-1-0 teams when the Washington Redskins traveled to the Mile High city.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Broncos took a 3-0 second quarter lead on a 20-yard Jason Elam field goal. A Redskins touchdown gave the visitors a 7-3 lead. The Broncos then scored 21 unanswered points (a 1-yard touchdown run by Rod Bernstine, an 8-yard touchdown pass Elway to Terrell Davis and a 6-yard Davis touchdown run) to gain a 24-7 lead. A Redskin touchdown from future Broncos backup quarterback Gus Frerotte made the score 24-14 at the half. The third quarter belonged to the Redskins as they scored 10 points to tie the game at 24-24. The two teams exchanged touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put the score at 31-31. After the Redskins tied the game at 31-31, the Broncos got the ball 1-10-DEN20 with 1:07 left. Seven Elway passes later, Denver was facing a 4-10-WAS43 with 0:06 left in the game. Elway connected with WR Rod Smith for a 43-yard touchdown pass and the Broncos secured a 38-31 victory.
An interesting footnote: this was the second time that the Broncos won a game on September 17th with a last moment score.
9-17-2000: Denver@Oakland, Denver won 33-24
The Broncos had entered the second post-Elway season by splitting their first two games (a 36-41 loss to the St. Louis Rams, followed by a 42-14 victory over the Atlanta Falcons). On this September 17th, Denver was traveling to the home of one of their hated division rivals -- the Oakland Raiders.
The Broncos opened the game by having each of the team's three units provide a score: a 10-yard QB Brian Griese to WR Ed McCaffrey touchdown pass from the offensive unit, a 28-yard fumble return by DT Trevor Pryce for the defense and a 24-yard field goal from K Joe Nedney for the special teams. This gave Denver a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, and the Broncos never looked back. The Raiders did try to make it close, scoring a touchdown in the first quarter to make it 17-7 and then outscoring the Broncos 17-7 in the second quarter to tie the score 24-24 at the half. Denver scored the only points of the second half, however, as Nedney kicked three more field goals (one in the third quarter and two in the fourth quarter) to give the Broncos a 33-24 victory.
9-17-2006: Kansas City@Denver, Denver won 9-6 (OT)
Sixteen years after playing the Kansas City Chiefs on September 17th, the Broncos again hosted their division rival in 2006. Denver had played in the AFC Championship game in 2005 while Kansas City had finished 10-6-0 but missed the playoffs.
This was a game in which the defenses deserve a great deal of credit. Although they each gave up yards (Kansas City gave up 318 yards to Denver while the Broncos gave up 276 to the Chiefs) neither defense gave up a touchdown. The first quarter ended in a 0-0 tie. Kansas City took a 3-0 lead into the locker room with them. The Chiefs extended their lead to 6-0 in the third quarter before the Broncos got on the board. The second of two second-half field goals by Jason Elam tied the score at 6-6 with 5:54 left. After both teams had gone 3-and-out, the Chiefs drove to midfield with 0:27 left. Unable to convert on 3-13 from the 50, Kansas City punted with 0:22 left. Bronco QB Jake Plummer knelt to run out the clock and send the game into overtime. Denver won the toss in overtime and elected to receive. Plummer led the Broncos from 1-10-DEN16 to 4-6-KC21, then Jason Elam kicked the game winning 39-yard field goal.
The Broncos have played seven games on September 17th. They have won six of those games -- including having won six straight. Their sole loss came in 1967 in Miami. They have played five of those games at home and are undefeated at home when playing on the 17th of September. They have played two road games on the 17th, a loss to Miami in 1967 and a victory over Oakland in 2000. Their most recent game was an overtime win versus the Chiefs in Denver.
The Broncos travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons on this September 17th. Denver is currently 8-4-0 in the regular season against Atlanta and 4-2-0 on the road. They have split their last two meetings with Atlanta winning in Denver 41-28 in 2003 and the Broncos winning 24-20 in Atlanta in 2008.
Here's to hoping that the winning magic of the 17th follows the Broncos to Atlanta.