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The 1962 Denver Broncos were an aberration and we loved it

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos in 1962 almost did something special. They were almost relevant. They almost made the playoffs. In the end, they were the opening act of the 2009 Broncos starting the season 7-2 only to lose out to finish the season .500. It would be another ten years before the franchise ever sniffed a winning record.

Through those first nine games, the Broncos offense were topping 370 yards of total offense per game. There was trouble in paradise, however, as they were also averaging nearly four turnovers a game as well. One bright spot to the early part of that season was the fact that the Broncos defeated the Oakland Raiders on consecutive weekends (a 44-7 win in Denver on Friday, October 5, and a 23-6 win in Oakland on Sunday, October 14).

Once the wheels came flying off, it was game over. Their offensive production fell to about 270 yards per game and their turnovers rose to above a four per game average. They even committed nine turnovers in a single game during that stretch. Frank Tripucka would toss five interceptions that day, while his backup quarterback, George Shaw, would toss another three interceptions on just seven attempts.

In retrospect, it is not surprising that the Broncos struggled in their third season. They fared no better in their second AFL Draft than they had in their first in 1961. They had thirty-four draft picks, traded four away (two to the Chargers, one to the Raiders and one to the Titans -- the eventual New York Jets), and lost Merlin Olsen to the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. They only had two draft picks make the roster but neither player (John McGeever, Jim Perkins) made an impact as a rookie.

This would begin the streak of the darkest decade in Broncos history.

1962 Preseason
Aug. 10 11,500 L 33-17 Houston Oilers Atlanta, Georgia
Aug. 18 19,168 L 31-24 San Diego Chargers Balboa Stadium
Aug. 24 18,000 W 27-24 Dallas Texans Fort Worth, Texas
Aug. 31 5,000 L 41-12 Oakland Raiders Stockton, California
1962 Regular Season
Sept. 7 28,000 W 30-21 San Diego Chargers University of Denver Stadium
Sept. 15 30,577 W 23-20 Buffalo Bills War Memorial Stadium
Sept. 21 21,038 L 41-16 Boston Patriots Boston University Field
Sept. 30 17,213 W 32-10 New York Titans Polo Grounds
Oct. 5 22,452 W 44-7 Oakland Raiders Bears Stadium
Oct. 14 7,000 W 23-6 Oakland Raiders Frank Youell Field
Oct. 21 34,496 W 20-10 Houston Oilers Bears Stadium
Oct. 28 26,051 L 45-38 Buffalo Bills Bears Stadium
Nov. 4 20,827 W 23-20 San Diego Chargers Balboa Stadium
Nov. 11 28,187 L 33-29 Boston Patriots Bears Stadium
Nov. 18 23,523 L 24-3 Dallas Texans Bears Stadium
Nov. 22 15,776 L 46-45 New York Titans Bears Stadium
Dec. 2 30,650 L 34-17 Houston Oilers Jeppesen Stadium
Dec. 9 19,137 L 17-10 Dallas Texans Cotton Bowl

MHR MVP of 1962

As crazy as this will sound, my MVP goes to a punter/wide receiver in Bob Scarpitto. He wasn’t yet punting regularly in the AFL as that would come a few years later, but he was an impressive receiving threat. Though Lionel Taylor had twice the catches with 77 for 908 yards and 4 touchdowns, Scarpitto was able to capitalize off the triple coverage's Taylor was getting to explode for big gains down the field.

Scarpitto would finish with just 35 catches, but for 667 yards and 6 touchdowns. His 19.1 yards per catch was quite impressive for the time. My honorable mention goes to Gene Mingo for kicking 27 field goals and helping bring home a lot of those early wins. He also added four rushing touchdowns in 1962.

Who gets your MVP?

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