This game brings back some painful memories and still ranks 3rd on my all-time worst games as a Broncos fan list, just behind an even worst Super Bowl experience and that 1996 playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
For me personally, this was an interesting time in my life. Just a few months after this game, our family moved away from Pagosa Springs, Colorado to another small town in northern California called Cottonwood. It would be my last memories in Colorado, but they were enjoyable.
Being a nine year old with a short attention span, I quickly found interest in spending my days outside after the Denver Broncos began the season winning a few, losing a few and even getting a tie in there somewhere. However, by mid-November in the mountains I had to find things to do inside the house on weekends, which worked out perfectly because that's when the Broncos began a streak where the finished the season winning six of their last seven games.
By the time the playoffs rolled around, I was again hooked on the Broncos.
|1||13-Sep||Seattle Seahawks||W 40–17||Mile High Stadium||1–0||75,999|
|2||20-Sep||at Green Bay Packers||T 17–17 (OT)||Milwaukee Stadium||1–0–1||50,624|
|3||28-Sep||at Cleveland Browns||Canceled||Cleveland Stadium||1–0–1||Strike|
|4||4-Oct||Houston Oilers||L 10–40||Mile High Stadium||1–1–1||38,494|
|5||12-Oct||Los Angeles Raiders||W 30–14||Mile High Stadium||2–1–1||61,230|
|6||18-Oct||at Kansas City Chiefs||W 26–17||Arrowhead Stadium||3–1–1||20,296|
|7||26-Oct||at Minnesota Vikings||L 27–34||The Metrodome||3–2–1||51,011|
|8||1-Nov||Detroit Lions||W 34–0||Mile High Stadium||4–2–1||75,172|
|9||8-Nov||at Buffalo Bills||L 14–21||Rich Stadium||4–3–1||63,698|
|10||16-Nov||Chicago Bears||W 31–29||Mile High Stadium||5–3–1||75,783|
|11||22-Nov||at Los Angeles Raiders||W 23–17||LA Memorial Coliseum||6–3–1||61,318|
|12||29-Nov||at San Diego Chargers||W 31–17||Jack Murphy Stadium||7–3–1||61,880|
|13||6-Dec||New England Patriots||W 31–20||Mile High Stadium||8–3–1||75,795|
|14||13-Dec||at Seattle Seahawks||L 21–28||Kingdome||8–4–1||61,759|
|15||19-Dec||Kansas City Chiefs||W 20–17||Mile High Stadium||9–4–1||75,053|
|16||27-Dec||San Diego Chargers||W 24–0||Mile High Stadium||10–4–1||21,189|
In the AFC Divisional round, the Broncos faced up against the Houston Oilers in a rematch from earlier in the season. The Oilers dominated the Broncos in the first matchup by the score of 40-10, but this time the game was Mile High Stadium. John Elway led the Broncos on a scoring frenzy, while the Orange Crush defense dominated from start to finish. The Broncos would advance with a 34-10 victory and headed for another rematch with the Cleveland Browns in the championship game.
I recall the AFC Championship game that year very well. Just minutes after going nuts over John Elway leading what I thought would be a game clinching drive, that darn Bernie Kosar drove his team straight down the field for what I assumed would be a scoring drive that would send the game into overtime. Then "The Fumble" happened as Ernest Byner was stripped of the ball just before he was to cross the goalline for that game tying touchdown. Once again, the Broncos and Browns would play a game that would end up in NFL lore with an amazing finish. The Broncos would advanced to the Super Bowl with a 38-33 victory.
|Divisional Playoffs||10-Jan||Houston Oilers||W 34–10||Mile High Stadium||75,968|
|AFC Championship||17-Jan||Cleveland Browns||W 38–33||Mile High Stadium||75,993|
|Super Bowl XXII||31-Jan||Washington Redskins||L 10–42||Jack Murphy Stadium||73,302|
Super Bowl XXII would have the Broncos favored by 3.5 points over the Washington Redskins. It all started just as it should, with a 56 yard bomb early in the game from John Elway to Ricky Nattiel to open up scoring. The Broncos would later add a field goal to take a 10-0 lead, but then the second quarter started. The biggest second quarter in NFL history.
A little known backup quarterback named Doug Williams would lead the Redskins to 35 second quarter points that would leave all of Broncos Country shell shocked for the next 18 months. So much so, that the team would finish .500 the following season. It was a knockout punch that lasted a long time.
Fortunately, with each of these Super Bowl defeats, Broncos fans were left with a memorable moment from that season that made it all worth it. Here is the game clinching play against the Browns in the AFC Championship game - "The Fumble".