The 1998 season was one long party for me as the Denver Broncos for the first time ever were the undisputed champions of the NFL and heavily favored to repeat. Terrell Davis ran hog wild across the league and could not be denied his NFL MVP.
It was also the first time I had ever been able to go to an NFL football game. I attended the Broncos game against the San Diego Chargers in late November. It was a terribly windy day in a mostly orange-filled Jack Murphy Stadium, which helped both defenses nab a combined total of eight interceptions that day. Three for Elway and five for Craig Whelihan.
Sadly, I missed the first quarter stuck in traffic, but arrived just in time to see Rod Smith nab a touchdown pass in the second quarter. I was sitting on the Broncos sideline too, so it was quite an experience for this displaced Broncos fan to see my heroes all standing there just 50 feet from where I sat. I watched them interact almost as much as I watched the action on the field.
The Broncos would win that game 31-16 en route to a perfect 12-0 record. With the Internets still in its live streaming infancy, I had to catch most of the Broncos season on ESPN's highlights show, but it was obvious this team was something special and on its way to another Lombardy Trophy.
|1||7-Sep-98||New England Patriots||W 27–21||Mile High Stadium (ABC)||1–0||74,745|
|2||13-Sep-98||Dallas Cowboys||W 42–23||Mile High Stadium (FOX)||2–0||75,013|
|3||20-Sep-98||at Oakland Raiders||W 34–17||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (CBS)||3–0||56,578|
|4||27-Sep-98||at Washington Redskins||W 38–16||FedEx Field (CBS)||4–0||71,880|
|5||4-Oct-98||Philadelphia Eagles||W 41–16||Mile High Stadium (FOX)||5–0||73,218|
|6||11-Oct-98||at Seattle Seahawks||W 21–16||Kingdome (CBS)||6–0||66,258|
|8||25-Oct-98||Jacksonville Jaguars||W 37–24||Mile High Stadium (CBS)||7–0||75,217|
|9||1-Nov-98||at Cincinnati Bengals||W 33–26||Cinergy Field (CBS)||8–0||59,974|
|10||8-Nov-98||San Diego Chargers||W 27–10||Mile High Stadium (CBS)||9–0||74,925|
|11||16-Nov-98||at Kansas City Chiefs||W 30–7||Arrowhead Stadium (ABC)||10–0||78,100|
|12||22-Nov-98||Oakland Raiders||W 40–14||Mile High Stadium (CBS)||11–0||75,325|
|13||29-Nov-98||at San Diego Chargers||W 31–16||Qualcomm Stadium (ESPN)||12–0||66,532|
|14||6-Dec-98||Kansas City Chiefs||W 35–31||Mile High Stadium (CBS)||13–0||74,962|
|15||13-Dec-98||at New York Giants||L 16–20||Giants Stadium (CBS)||13–1||72,336|
|16||21-Dec-98||at Miami Dolphins||L 21–31||Pro Player Stadium (ABC)||13–2||74,363|
|17||27-Dec-98||Seattle Seahawks||W 28–21||Mile High Stadium (CBS)||14–2||74,057|
After stumbling late in the season, the Broncos got back on track and stampeded into the playoffs. The would first avenge a late season loss to the Miami Dolphins by completely embarrassing in what would be Dan Marino's final playoff game, 38-3.
From there, they faced Bill Parcels and his New York Jets in the AFC Championship game. That too was a windy day and surprisingly, the Jets were leading 3-0 at halftime and 10-0 early in the third quarter, but then the Denver Broncos woke up. In short order, the Broncos would put up 20 unanswered points and lead the game 20-10 heading into the fourth quarter.
Terrell Davis, easily the greatest post-season running back ever to step onto a football field, finished the day with 167 rushing yards, helping John Elway win his final game at Mile High Stadium.
|Round||Date||TV Time||Opponent||Result||Game site||Attendance|
|Divisional Playoffs||9-Jan-99||CBS 2:15 pm MT||Miami Dolphins||W 38–3||Mile High Stadium||75,729|
|AFC Championship||17-Jan-99||CBS 2:15 pm MT||New York Jets||W 23–10||Mile High Stadium||75,482|
|Super Bowl XXXIII||31-Jan-99||FOX 4:25 pm MT||Atlanta Falcons||W 34–19||Pro Player Stadium||74,803|
Super Bowl XXXIII featured two teams that finished the season 14-2, however, the Denver Broncos were overwhelming favorites and they showed why by halftime. Up 10-3 in the second quarter, Rod Smith burned Eugene Robinson deep catching a perfect pass from John Elway and taking it to the house for an 80 yard touchdown reception.
The game stayed close until the fourth quarter, however. The Falcons were determined to keep Terrell Davis bottled up, so it fell on John Elway to put the game away. And put it away he did, leading the Broncos on two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to put the Broncos up 31-6. Terrell Davis capped his playoff career with his seventh consecutive 100 yard game in the playoffs, but the day was Elway's. He would retire after the 34-19 victory with another ring and a Super Bowl MVP to add to his credit.
You couldn't write a better ending to his career and now he is trying to do the same for Peyton Manning. We are truly blessed to have this man leading the franchise we love so far removed from his own playing career. Two more days... Go Broncos!