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The Denver Broncos Fan Guide: AFC East

With news that the lockout may soon end (fingers and toes crossed), Mile High Report is taking a Bronco-centric look at teams around the league. It’s important that we, as football fans, understand the history of each of the teams in the NFL. In many cases there has been good or bad blood between our Denver Broncos and the rest of the league. It's my hope that this guide informs as much as it entertains looking forward into (hopefully) this season.

This week, we look at the AFC EAST:

Buffalo Bills:
The Buffalo Bills were founded in 1959 by Ralph Wilson and was a founding member of the American Football League (AFL). They were named for the previous All-American Football Conference (AAFC) team, also called the Buffalo Bills, that ended up merging with the Cleveland Browns in 1950.  Buffalo won back-to-back AFL Championships in 1964 and 1965.  In 1973 the Bills considered and rejected a move from Buffalo to Seattle.  The Bills are the only team to have ever played in four consecutive Super Bowls, losing them all. They are currently the only New York based NFL team to actually play in the state of New York (discounting, of course, the smattering of "home games they play in Toronto). The Jets and Giants play their games in New Jersey.

Record Against the Broncos:
The Bills and Broncos have been pretty even over the years with Buffalo recently taking the edge. 15-18-1

Fan Temperament:
Bills fans are largely knowledgeable about the game.  They are a cold weather team and my hat goes off to them for continuing to play in an outdoor stadium.   When it’s all said and done, Bills fans are good football fans.  Interesting Fact: There are stories about Bills fans bringing their own kegs of beer into the Bills’ first football venue, War Memorial Stadium.  It was, by all accounts a raucous good time.

Memorable Broncos vs. Bills moment:
Floyd Little Gets Fired
Ironically, Floyd Little was fired during a game by the coach who won those championships in 1964 and 1965 with Buffalo, Lou Saban.  To quote Mile High Report’s interview with Broncos QB Marlin Briscoe:
Marlin Briscoe: [... Floyd]  always tells the story how I saved his job in a game, when Lou Saban cut him. [...]
It's a true story. We were playing Buffalo and we were winning the game in the last couple of minutes. We were ahead, so I wanted to run out the clock. If we run out the clock, the game is over. So I was calling sweeps, so we would run out time. I call out Floyd on a sweep, and he fumbled the ball. Buffalo picked it up, and ran all the way down the field and scored. Now we only had a couple of minutes [...], not even two minutes left in the game, and Saban didn't call in - he didn't send any plays [...]. So I had a play that I wanted to run, because I was calling my own plays.

On this particular play, I was going to isolate Floyd on a linebacker on a down and out and up. I figured Floyd could beat the linebacker. So, I was getting ready to call the play and I look in the huddle, and Floyd's not [there]. Fran Lynch was in the huddle. Fran didn't have the speed that Floyd had. I still had to call the play, because we didn't have enough time in the huddle. [...] So I got ready to call the play, and in runs Floyd, and Fran goes out. I call the play, and I got flushed out of the pocket, and I turned right and threw the ball. It was like 66 yards in the air - a perfect strike - and Floyd caught it. We were down on the 12,  Bobby Howfield kicked the field goal, and we win the game.

I never knew what transpired between the time that Floyd wasn't in the huddle until the time that he ran into the huddle. I didn't know what was going on. I was on the field with my team, trying to win the game. I congratulate Floyd [as we] were coming off the field and Lou Saban ran up to Floyd.  [He] said, "You got one more game, you got one more game." And I'm trying to figure out what he [was talking about] and then he walked away. I said, "Floyd, what's that all about?" He said, "Magician, do you realize that he cut me?" He said, "He cut me, you know, when I fumbled that ball, and I put myself back on the field." Yeah, true story, Lou had cut him.

Jess Place: Was that common for Lou to cut people on the field like that?
Marlin Briscoe: He cut his captain at half time.

Jess Place: Oh my gosh.

Marlin Briscoe: Yeah, [...]Otis Taylor [of the Kansas City Chiefs] caught a couple of post patterns on a free safety and Saban cut him at half time.  [...] Sent him home. He said, "My friend, hit the I-25 in the morning."
The Dolphins were founded as an AFL expansion franchise in 1966.  Professional sports hadn’t been in Miami since 1946, when the AAFC’s  Miami Seahawks had their franchise confiscated due to financial difficulties (think baseball’s Montreal Expos).  The Seahawks were sold to a Baltimore businessman and was rebranded the Baltimore Colts (however this first incarnation of the Colts folded in 1950 before being revived in 1953).

Starting in 1966 television star and full-time real dolphin, Flipper, proudly swam around in tiny circles from within a tiny tank located in one of the end zones.  Due to cost reasons, the Flipper idea came to a crashing halt in 1968.  However, in 2009 Jennifer Lopez bought a minority stake in the Dolphins and it’s quite possible they may revive the media star in a tank idea.  One can only hope to see J-Lo carrying on this proud tradition.  

Record Against the Broncos:
The Dolphins own the Broncos.  In life, there are things that are meant to be and things that just aren’t and unfortunately, Denver beating the Dolphins just isn’t one of them.  All time we are 3-11-1 during the regular season.

Fan Temperament:
Dolphins fans are always quick to remind you about their undefeated season, but are quick to forget the Cam Cameron 1-15 season from just a few years ago. Unfortunately, Dolphins games have been blacked out as recently as 1998. With all there is to do in Miami, who’s to blame the casual fan for opting to go to the beach over watching Chad Henne roll around on his back all day.  It’s for this reason that I give the fans a lukewarm grade.

Memorable Broncos vs. Dolphins Moment:
January 9, 1999 - The Divisional Playoff Win
Despite the fact that the Broncos have only beaten the Dolphins three times in the regular season, we won the one that really counted - the playoff game on our way to our second Super Bowl victory.  After losing to Miami less than three weeks earlier by a score of 21-31, the Broncos manhandled the Dolphins, 38-3.  Terrell Davis scored two touchdowns, Derek Louville scored one touchdown, Rod Smith caught a touchdown, and Neil Smith returned a fumble 79-yards for a touchdown.  When the Broncos needed it most, they came up big.  Since then, the Broncos have beaten them one time, in 2004.

New York Titans/Jets:
Harry Wismer’s Titans of New York (what’s bigger than a Giant?  A Titan!) were a founding member of the AFL in 1959.  Early on, they had a rough go of it, playing in a sub-standard stadium (The Polo Grounds) for the first two years of existence.    Their first coach was none other than Redskins icon "Slingin’" Sammy Baugh.  The most notable thing to arise out of his tenure as coach was his feisty dislike for the Polo Grounds (apparently there were herds of feral cats that would roam the stadium).

The Titans became the Jets to begin the 1963 season.  It was at this time that they began play at Shea Stadium, playing second fiddle to the New York Mets.  It was because of having to schedule their games around the Mets, that the stadium sharing with the NY Giants began in part in 1977 before New Jersey’s Giant’s Stadium became their permanent home in 1984.

The greatest moment in Jets history also happens to be one of the greatest moments in AFL history.  In 1969 the Jets were the first AFL franchise to beat an NFL franchise, the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.  

Record Against the Broncos:
The Broncos narrowly hold the edge over the Jets with a 16-15-1 all time record.

Fan Temperament:
One only need to watch the NFL Draft to see what Jets fans are like.  They are loud.  They are (what’s another word for obnoxious?) passionate.  I like their Fireman Fred guy, but dislike the J-E-T-S chant.  It always seems that when I go to a sports bar I always end up sitting next to a very "passionate" Jets fan and his girlfriend. I don't know how I won that lot in life, but it is what it is. I grade Jets fans as notorious.

Memorable Broncos vs. Jets Moment:
January 17, 1999 - The AFC Championship Win
The Broncos beat the Jets in their second playoff win of that year, 23-10, to clinch the AFC Championship. Howard Griffith caught a touchdown pass while Terrell Davis ran for another.  Jason Elam booted three field goals to advance the Broncos to Super Bowl XXXIII.

Honorable Mention:
Though it didn’t occur in a game versus the Broncos, it’s important that every Broncos fan remember that this happened.  It remains as incredible today as it was then:

Boston/New England Patriots:
The Patriots franchise was founded in 1959 by Billy Sullivan and was a founding franchise of the AFL.  In 1971 they moved from their many stadia (they moved around quite a bit) in Boston to their new home in Foxborough and became the New England Patriots (after being called the Bay State Patriots for two months - good call on not sticking with that).  

For a long time New England suffered Super Bowl losses before their first success. First they lost to the 1985 Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX and then they lost to the 1996 Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI.  They would then go on to win three Super Bowls in four years during the early 2000’s.  I'd mention the 18-1 season, but it really only would have mattered if they'd won that Super Bowl... Okay, fine... It was kinda impressive.

Record Against the Broncos:
The Broncos are 25-16 all time against the Patriots.  No matter how good the Patriots have been these last few years, the Broncos, more often than not, are one of the few teams that have had their number.

Fan Temperament:
There are few things more annoying than a team's fans whose bravado is justified.  They’re not as in your face as Jets fans, but they are very vocal when pointing out their championships.  They suffered a long time before they finally got their rings.  They play outside in the cold and it’s for this reason, although it pains me to say so, that they are good-ish fans.

Memorable Broncos vs. Patroits Moment:
January 14, 2006 - Divisional Playoff
I like to call this the Champ Bailey/Todd Sauerbrun game. Champ had a 100-yard interception return and didn’t get the touchdown due to a particularly feisty Patriot who almost ruined the whole thing by knocking the ball from Champ's hands at the one yard-line, mere inches away from getting a touchback.  It was also in this game that Todd Sauerbrun caused a fumble by putting his hat right on the ball during a punt return that essentially sealed the game for Denver.  The image of a pre-Beiber cut Tom Brady freaking out on the sideline is something that still pleases me greatly to this day.

Who's up next week? The NFC North!