Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, the teams have planed a total of 13 games. Five of those games have come in Denver while seven have taken place in now defunct Candle-stick park. These two teams met once in New Orleans for Super Bowl 24. That game still lives in infamy as the worst loss in Broncos franchise history. People thought 43-8 was bad, the Niners were up 41-3 with nine minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
The Denver defense had no answer for the the West Coast offense run by Joe Montana. Our secondary gave up a whopping four TD passes on post patterns alone. John Elway went 10-26 for 108 yards and 2 interceptions while his counterpart Joe Montana set super bowl record after Super Bowl record. Montana finished the game 22-29 for 297 yards and 5 touchdown passes. At the time, Montana held Super Bowl records most passing attempts, most completions, most passing yards, most touchdown passes, and most consecutive completions with 13. This would mark Joe's final Super Bowl appearance and he would go out with a final TD/INT ratio of 11/0 which is still the best mark in NFL history.
This one game seemed to throw the Broncos into a deep tailspin. The following season Denver went 5-11 followed by a 12-4 season and four straight seasons of .500 or near .500 ball after that. This loss was the third decisive defeat the Broncos had faced in the Super Bowl in four seasons. This is what created the doubt around John Elway and "The Big Game" and ultimately the game that led to the decline in the relationship between Elway and head coach Dan Reeves. The Denver Broncos became the laughingstock of pop-culture inspiring many defaming skits including this one from "The Simpsons"
I might still be ashamed of this game had I not been a mere 6 years old at the time. You want to know my reaction to the debacle? I cried and threw a fit the moment my dad turned the game off. Six-year-olds don't care about the outcome, they just want to see their Denver Broncos play. Here are some highlights from the 2nd half of that game, if you can bring yourself to watch them.
How do you top a 55-10 ass-whooping in the Super Bowl? You can't. There's no way. I was half-tempted to call the preseason game this past year our best showing against the Niners. You know, the one where we shut them out in their first game at Levi Stadium? By doing that I could show just how absurd it is to find a best game on the same level as the worst game when your worst game came in the Super Bowl.
The only thing that would add a bit of history to this hot and cold rivalry would be for the Broncos and Peyton to take it to the Niners this Sunday Night. For Peyton Manning to notch TD pass 509 in front of a frenzied home crowd on primetime television. That will take a 3 TD effort, something that Manning has accomplished with relative ease as a Bronco.
From a fan's perspective, the best is yet to come in this rivalry.
Until then, 55-10 will always stand above, and my 6-year-old alter ego could care less - put the game back on pops, my Broncos are playing!
Editor's Note: FanDuel is hosting a $250,000 one-week fantasy football league this weekend. It's $5 to join and the top 9,680 teams win money. League starts Sunday 1 PM ET and ends on Monday night. Here's the link.