By the 1986 season, John Elway was rapidly becoming superstar in the NFL. He hadn't yet become famous for the miracles he often performed in the 4th quarter, but the beginnings of that legend were forged during this season.
At the time, I was a seven year old living in Pagosa Springs, Colorado who was just beginning to become interested in sports and specifically, the Denver Broncos. My memory is hazy, but I do recall vividly a Monday Night Football game with the 6-0 Broncos playing in the Meadowlands against the 5-1 New York Jets. It sucked, because the Jets dominated the game 22-10 en route to a nine game winning streak for them, but I still remember how excited I was leading up to that game.
Looking back, the Denver Broncos that year had a very similar regular season wins-wise as the Kansas City Chiefs did this year. They streaked to an 8-1 record then promptly lost four of their last seven to finish with an 11-5 record. However, they wouldn't finish in the playoffs like this years Chiefs did.
|1||7-Sep||Los Angeles Raiders||W 38–36||Mile High Stadium||1–0||75,695|
|2||15-Sep||at Pittsburgh Steelers||W 21–10||Three Rivers Stadium||2–0||57,305|
|3||21-Sep||at Philadelphia Eagles||W 33–7||Veterans Stadium||3–0||63,839|
|4||28-Sep||New England Patriots||W 27–20||Mile High Stadium||4–0||75,804|
|5||5-Oct||Dallas Cowboys||W 29–14||Mile High Stadium||5–0||76,082|
|6||12-Oct||at San Diego Chargers||W 31–14||Jack Murphy Stadium||6–0||55,662|
|7||20-Oct||at New York Jets||L 10–22||The Meadowlands||6–1||73,759|
|8||26-Oct||Seattle Seahawks||W 20–13||Mile High Stadium||7–1||76,089|
|9||2-Nov||at Los Angeles Raiders||W 21–10||Los Angeles Coliseum||8–1||90,153|
|10||9-Nov||San Diego Chargers||L 3–9||Mile High Stadium||8–2||75,012|
|11||16-Nov||Kansas City Chiefs||W 38–17||Mile High Stadium||9–2||75,745|
|12||23-Nov||at New York Giants||L 16–19||Giants Stadium||9–3||75,116|
|13||30-Nov||Cincinnati Bengals||W 34–28||Mile High Stadium||10–3||58,705|
|14||7-Dec||at Kansas City Chiefs||L 10–37||Arrowhead Stadium||10–4||47,019|
|15||13-Dec||Washington Redskins||W 31–30||Mile High Stadium||11–4||75,905|
|16||20-Dec||at Seattle Seahawks||L 16–41||Kingdome||11–5||63,697|
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MHR Radio Podcast 2.23 | Super Bowl Edition
Two down and one to go. Against the NFL's best the Broncos look to make it three in a row.
The Broncos season almost ended in the first round as Elway struggled the entire game, completing just 13 of 32 passes and two interceptions, but he threw a touchdown and also ran for another. However, with the score 17-13 late in the third quarter, Elway connected with Vance Johnson for a 48 yard touchdown pass. They would control the game defensively from then on to advance to the AFC Championship game at the Cleveland Browns.
It was this game where John Elway's legend truly began to become NFL lore. In this instant classic, John Elway, down 20-13 with five minutes left in the game began an offensive possession at the two yard line. What followed would go down in NFL history as "The Drive". On the game's second biggest stage, against a hostile crowd and a stout defense, Elway would snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. If you are too young to remember, I've embedded a video below for your viewing pleasure.
|Divisional Playoffs||4-Jan||New England Patriots||W 22–17||Mile High Stadium||76,105|
|AFC Championship||11-Jan||at Cleveland Browns||W 23–20 (OT)||Cleveland Stadium||79,915|
|Super Bowl XXI||25-Jan||N New York Giants||L 20–39||Rose Bowl||101,063|
After dropping the Cleveland Browns 23-20 in the overtime, the Denver Broncos advanced to Super Bowl XXI to face the New York Giants. I remember the aftermath of that championship win well. It was January 11, 1987 and that was the day I became a true Broncomaniac. It was definitely impactful on my eight year old self!
The Super Bowl for the Broncos started out well enough as they headed into halftime with a 10-9 lead and feeling good about how the game was going. However, the Giants went into halftime pissed off and angry about how the game had gone. What happened was an offensive and defensive explosion by the Giants and before the Broncos knew what hit them they were down 39-13. The one interesting stat from that game was the final touchdown scored was a John Elway bomb to Vance Johnson that went down in history as the 100th touchdown ever scored in the Super Bowl. Other than that, though, it was a tough day for the Broncos and their loyal fans.