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Super Bowl XXI: Good start for Broncos ends in disaster

The Denver Broncos started out well against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXI but were shell-shocked in the second half.

Super Bowl XXI - Giants v Broncos Photo by Focus Sport/Getty Images

The 1986 Denver Broncos walked into a buzz saw in the New York Giants. Lawrence Taylor spearheaded a defense that gave up 20-points just twice that entire season as they ran their way to a league-best 14-2 record.

While the Giants obliterated teams in the NFC playoffs by a combined score of 66-3, the Broncos stumbled into the playoffs losing four of seven games before squeaking by the New England Patriots and then the legendary John Elway-led Drive in the AFC Championship Game against the Cleveland Browns.

In every sense and in every statistical category, the Broncos were overmatched in this Super Bowl.

The Good

Elway and the Broncos started out well, scoring on their first two drives. For the game, Elway finished 22/37 for 304 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Elway also added a rushing touchdown.

During the fourth quarter, Elway hit Vance Johnson for a 47-yard touchdown strike that was the 100th record touchdown in Super Bowl history.

Leading up to the game, it was universally said that Elway would need a career game to beat the Giants. He had a good game, but far from a career game. Elway showed that one man could not alone lifted a team to a World Championship - a fact he and the Broncos would cement into reality by the end of the decade.

The Bad

Defensively, the Broncos could not stop Phil Simms. Simms, a quarterback who had more interceptions than touchdowns in the regular season, finished 22/25 for 268 yards for three touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Giants also added 139 yards on the ground to completely blow the Broncos out of the water in the second half.

Bill Belichick put together a dominating defensive performance that kept the Broncos offense off balance and inconsistent for much of the game.

“The road the team has traveled to get here is different,” Belichick said on Tuesday. “Each one is unique. Each one is special. Super Bowl 21 in Pasadena as an assistant was different. This is a hard place to get to. You have to meet all the competition and withstand it. It’s a great feeling to be here.”

The Ugly

Rich Karlis missed two field goals in the first half, which really cost the Broncos the early momentum they clearly needed as the Giants scored four touchdowns and a field goal on their first five possessions of the second half en route to a dominating 39-20 victory.

Simms, after being named the Super Bowl MVP, coined the phrase, “I’m going to Disneyland!” which only added to the misery of Broncos fans everywhere.