On September 23, the Broncos will be hosting the defending AFC South champion Houston Texans. The Texans dominated the Miami Dolphins 30-10 in their first game of the 2012 season. This past week, Houston dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-7. They will be looking to continue their streak when the travel to Denver.
Denver meanwhile dominated the defending AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19 on the opening weekend of 2012 play. The Broncos then traveled to Atlanta to take on their second second 2011 playoff team. Unfortunately, four first quarter turnovers ultimately doomed the Broncos efforts as they dropped the contest 27-21. They will need to spend a great deal of time trying to regroup from that loss in order to play a hot Houston team on a short week.
Take a jump with me to see how the Broncos have fared in other years when playing on September 23.
9-23-1960: Denver@New York Titans, New York won 28-24
The Broncos traveled to New York to take on the Titans in their third game as a franchise. Denver fell behind 0-7 at the end of the first quarter. RB Gene Mingo dashed 30 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to tie the game. He later added a 33-yard field goal to give the Broncos a 10-7 lead at the half. Both teams scored a touchdown in the third quarter, leaving Denver with a 17-14 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
The Titans scored first to take a 21-17 lead. After an exchange of punts, the Broncos had the ball 1-10-NYT31. Tripucka's first pass from this point was incomplete. His second connected with WR Lionel Taylor at the New York 7-yard line. Taylor took the ball the rest of the way in for the touchdown and a 24-21 lead with 2:55 remaining. The Broncos got the ball back on New York's next possession when DB Johnny Pyeatt intercepted a Titans' pass at the Denver 20-yard line. Denver was unable to move the ball and a low snap from center led to a blocked punt which the Titans returned for a touchdown and a 28-24 lead. The Broncos had one more offensive play -- an incomplete pass which ended the game.
9-23-1973: San Francisco@Denver, San Francisco won 36-34
This was only the second time that Denver had played San Francisco. The first game came in 1970 when Denver lost 19-14 in San Francisco. This time the Broncos were facing the 49ers in Denver. Denver started strong. QB Charley Johnson and WR Jerry Simmons connected for an 18-yard touchdown pass to start the scoring in the first quarter. K Jim Turner added a field goal to give the Broncos a 10-0 lead after one quarter. Turner added a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter to extend Denver's lead to 13-0. Then came the 49ers' turn. A field goal was followed by two touchdowns and a second field goal. The Broncos suddenly found themselves trailing 20-13 at the half.
San Francisco was not done. They added ten more points to start the third quarter and take a 30-13 lead. A 1-yard run by Floyd Little for a touchdown narrowed the gap to 30-20. San Francisco extended their lead to 33-20 early in the fourth quarter. Denver responded with a touchdown drive that was capped by a 5-yard pass from Johnson to Simmons. The Broncos forced a 3-and-out on the 49ers' next possession and again drove for a touchdown on a 1-yard run by Little. This gave the Broncos a 34-33 lead with 4:12 left in the game. San Francisco marched from their own 17-yard line to the Denver 32-yard line and kicked a field goal with 0:31 left in the game. Denver's next possession ended after one play -- an interception, which preserved the 49ers' 36-34 victory.
An amusing footnote to this story: San Francisco QB John Brodie ended the game by kneeling down twice to let the clock expire. The description of those two plays in the Denver Broncos Game Book for that game reads:
"SAN FRANCISCO 0:15 -- 1/10/S39 -- Brodie falls down loses 1. 2/11/S38 -- Denver time out 0:07. Brodie falls down for 0."
9-23-1979: Seattle@Denver, Denver won 37-34
This game was the fourth meeting of the Broncos and the Seahawks. Seattle had entered the league in 1976, but were placed in the NFC West Division. They moved to the AFC West in 1977, swapping places with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who had been placed in the AFC West in 1976. Denver had never lost to the Seahawks.
Seattle startled Denver by being quick out of the gates and building a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. A 27-yard Jim Turner field goal trimmed the deficit to 7, but the Seahawks answered with a touchdown to make it 17-3. Denver responded with a touchdown of their own, on a 2-yard run by Otis Armstrong. Seattle added a field goal before the half to make the score 20-10 going into the locker room. The Seahawks started the second half with the hot hand, adding two more touchdowns in the third quarter for a 34-17 lead. Then Denver's Craig Morton went to work, throwing three third quarter touchdown passes -- 2 yards to Dave Studdard on a tackle eligible play, 11 yards to Haven Moses, 35 yards to Rick Upchurch. This narrowed the Seattle lead to 34-31. The Broncos then scored on their first possession in the fourth quarter (a 1 yard run by Rob Lytle) to take a 37-34 lead. Denver fended off the Seahawks for the rest of the quarter to preserve the victory.
9-23-1984: Kansas City@Denver, Denver won 21-0
This was the 48th meeting between these two AFL/AFC rivals. Denver had been dominated by the Chiefs over the years with Kansas City winning 32 of those 48 meetings. Now to be fair, the Broncos had won 11 of the previous 18 meetings with the Chiefs.
This meeting would prove to be a battle of the defenses. The first quarter saw five punts (three by the Chiefs and two by the Broncos), a missed field goal (by the Broncos) and no points. The second quarter saw the Broncos score two touchdowns. It also saw two missed field goals (both by Kansas City; one was deflected by a Broncos defender), two punts (one by each team) and two interceptions (one by each team). The defenses dominated the third quarter, forcing five punts (three by Kansas City, two by Denver) and an interception (the Broncos DB Mike Harden intercepted a Chiefs pass and returned it for a touchdown). Defense was also the name of the game in the fourth quarter. Each team was forced to punt twice and Denver took the ball away once with an interception, then forced the Chiefs to turn the ball over on downs (in this case, a Kansas City receiver dropped a 4th down pass in the Denver end zone).
9-23-1990: Seattle@Denver, Denver won 34-31 (OT)
In 1990, Denver hosted Seattle for a second time on September 23rd. This game proved to be another shootout. The teams combined for 325 rushing yards (Denver 141, Seattle 184) and 510 passing yards (Denver 297, Seattle 213).
The Seahawks started the scoring taking the opening possession of the game and driving 79 yards in 6:48 to take a 7-0 lead. Denver answered with an 83 yard drive for a touchdown to tie the score at 7-7. On Seattle's next possession, sacked Seahawk QB Dave Krieg. This play resulted in a 28 yard loss and a fumble by Krieg at the Seattle 2-yard line. Broncos LB Karl Mecklenburg recovered the fumble and had the presence of mind to roll into the end zone for a touchdown. Seattle responded with a touchown drive to open the second quarter and force a 14-14 tie. However, Denver scored on two of their next three possessions (a 29-yard touchdown pass from Elway to WR Mark Jackson and a 1-yard touchdown pass from Elway to RB Mel Bratton). This gave the Broncos a 28-14 edge at the half. Seattle controlled the third quarter adding a field goal and then a touchdown to close the gap to a 28-24 score. Broncos K David Treadwell put Denver up by 7 with a 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks replied with a touchdown drive to tie the score at 31-31. Denver missed a field goal on their next possession. Seattle had a chance to win, but also missed a field goal.
The Seahawks got the ball first in the overtime period and missed their second consecutive field goal. Denver did not let this opportunity slip away, marching 66 yards then kicking the winning field -- a 25-yarder by David Treadwell.
9-23-2001: Denver@Arizona, Denver won 38-17
The Broncos traveled to Arizona to take on the Cardinals in the sixth game between the two franchises -- two when the Cardinals were in St. Louis, two when they were known as the Phoenix Cardinals, and now a second game when they were known as the Arizona Cardinals. The teams tied 17-17 in their first ever meeting. The Broncos had won the four games since then.
Arizona opened the scoring with a first quarter field goal and a 3-0 lead after one quarter. They extended that lead to 10-0 in the second quarter. Then the Broncos offense went to work. Three Jason Elam field goals (49 yards, 31 yards, 35 yards) made it a 10-9 game. Brian Griese connected with Rod Smith for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Griese then connected with TE Dwayne Carswell for a 2-point conversion to give Denver a 17-10 lead at the half. The Broncos added two more touchdowns in the third quarter (Griese to Smith for 34 yards and Griese to FB Patrick Hape for 1 yard) to take a 31-10 lead into the fourth quarter. RB Olandis Gary scored one more touchdown on a 9-yard run for Denver in the fourth quarter to give Denver a 38-10 lead. Arizona QB Jake Plummer (who would become a Bronco in 2003) added a final Cardinal touchdown.
9-23-2007: Jacksonville@Denver, Jacksonville won 23-14
The most recent September 23rd game took place in 2007 when the 2-0 Denver Broncos played host to the 1-1 Jacksonville Jaguars. This game started out as a defensive struggle with neither team managing to score in the first quarter. The Jaguars scored first in the second quarter but Denver QB Jay Cutler tied the game with a 1-yard pass to Nate Jackson. Then the Jaguars took control of the second quarter adding a touchdown and a field goal for a 17-7 lead at the half. Jacksonville extended its lead to 20-7 -- their field goal being the only score of the third quarter. A 6-yard run by Travis Henry gave the Broncos hope, closing the score to 20-14 in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars, however, were the ones who closed out the scoring in the game with one more field goal for the 23-14 final.
The Broncos hold a slight edge when playing on September 23 with a 4-3-0 record. They will have their work cut out for them to be able to bounce back from a frustrating loss and control a strong, well-balanced Houston team.