It's been 10 years since John Elway and the 1997 Denver Broncos win that elusive Super Bowl Title. In celebration of that acheivement, we'll go week by week through the 1997 season and remember the wins and losses, the highs and lows, the good and the bad of a Super Bowl Championship season.
Today, we look back to 9/7/97, Week 2 of the 1997 season when the Broncos travelled to the Great Northwest to face the 0-1 Seattle Seahawks. Seattle was still a member of the AFC West back then, and the 'Hawks and Broncos had developed into quite a rivalry. The Kingdome was never a fun place to play, and the 'Hawks weren't in a very good mood after getting crushed by the New York Jets 41-3 a week earlier. It mattered little, with the Broncos dominating from the start in a 35-14 road win. Below are all the details of the Broncos 2nd win of 1997.
Of course, that might be hard to believe after Denver's 35-14 lashing of the Seahawks on Sunday at the Kingdome. Springs, the third player taken in this year's NFL draft, was given the type of lesson he never received at Ohio State, courtesy of Broncos quarterback John Elway and wide receiver Ed McCaffrey.
Matched against Springs for most of the day, McCaffrey enjoyed one of the best games in his seven-year career with eight receptions for 93 yards and two touchdowns. McCaffrey also was able to get Springs whistled for three penalties that resulted in 49 yards for the Broncos.
``It just kind of ended up that way,'' said Elway, who completed 18 of 26 passes for 197 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
``We were having success, and we were getting
some penalties. As long as that was happening, we're going to continue going over that way.
``He (Springs) is going to be a great player. He just needs experience. Once he gets it, he's going to be hard to handle.''
But whereas Springs is measured by his potential, the Broncos (2-0) proved Sunday they are ready to contend for a Super Bowl berth now. Trailing by one point at halftime, Denver pitched a second-half shutout and scored three touchdowns en route to a victory that keeps them alone atop the AFC West and Seattle (0-2) in the division's basement.
``I was pleased,'' said Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who now holds a three-game winning streak against Seattle. ``We got behind, and we came up with a couple of pretty good drives. Our defense came up with a big turnover. The game going into the middle of the third quarter could have gone either way, but our players picked it up.''
And picked it off, as in Denver cornerback Darrien Gordon's 32-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave the Broncos a commanding 28-14 lead. Just as Seahawks wide receiver (and ex-University of Colorado standout and former Broncos receiver) Mike Pritchard turned around for a Warren Moon pass, Gordon broke for the ball and made the interception. With a few blocks from his teammates, Gordon ran 32 yards down the sideline for the score as the third quarter expired.
``It was a critical situation,'' said Gordon, who won the starting spot at right cornerback two weeks ago. ``From the film studies, we knew they like to run slants in that particular area. I got inside and Warren threw it right at me.''
Moon, 40, played well in his first start for Seattle. He completed 20 of 33 passes for 222 yards and one touchdown. But he couldn't compare with Elway, who was outstanding on the third-quarter scoring drive that put Denver in the lead for good.
Elway completed all five of his pass attempts for 55 yards and also ran 6 yards for a first down on a third-and-1 from the Seattle 27. On the next play, McCaffrey got behind Springs to catch a 21-yard touchdown pass. Elway then connected with tight end Shannon Sharpe for a two-point conversion to put Denver ahead 21-14.
While such a series would seem like the game's turning point, several Broncos thought Jason Elam's 51-yard field goal just before halftime was even more important. That's because the score killed much of the momentum Seattle had generated from two quick second-quarter touchdowns.
On the series following a Moon touchdown pass to tight end Carlester Crumpler, Broncos quarterback John Elway fumbled after being sacked by Seahawks defensive end Michael Sinclair. Linebacker Chad Brown, another ex-CU player, picked up the ball on one bounce and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown that put Seattle ahead 14-10 with 55 seconds left in the half.
``I heard him right at the last minute,'' said Elway, who was sacked twice Sunday. ``He got me good. He stripped me, and the ball was gone before I knew it.''
But just as the crowd of 55,859 started showing signs of life, Elway moved the Broncos 31 yards in 53 seconds to set up Elam's key field goal.
``We had the momentum going, then they kick a field goal and the momentum changes,'' said Seattle coach Dennis Erickson, whose team lost 41-3 last week to the New York Jets. ``We had a chance in the third quarter, but we didn't get any points. They had to come from behind, and we didn't do that.''
Erickson can blame the Broncos defense, which stopped Seattle on two fourth-down plays in the fourth quarter. Seattle's running game also was kept in check, as Denver allowed only 69 yards on 24 carries (a 2.9-yard average).
The Seahawks couldn't do the same against Broncos running back Terrell Davis, who posted his second consecutive 100-yard game with 21 rushes for 107 yards. Davis added to the Seahawks' woes with his 1-yard touchdown run with 7:22 left in the game.
The game started with the earmarks of a Broncos blowout. Vaughn Hebron returned the opening kickoff 46 yards to the Broncos' 49 and Denver reached the Seattle 19, but settled for a 38-yard Elam field goal.
After holding Seattle without a first down, the Broncos began rolling again with a nine-play, 71-yard drive. Springs was penalized twice within a four-play span and also surrendered a 14-yard touchdown pass to McCaffrey.
``I got him a couple of times today,'' said McCaffrey, who fell one reception short of matching his single-game high. ``But he's going to be a real good player in this league.''
Said Springs: ``Personally, I didn't have one of my better days. I think everyone else in the secondary did well. Now, I have to step it up and play better.''
In that regard, Springs might want to use Denver's second-half performance as a model.