Good morning, Broncos Country!
When games get nicknames, you know they were historic.
In the case of the Denver Broncos in AFC Championship Games, there have been two such instances. As I did last week for Divisional Weekend, this week I’ll remember the Broncos in games played on this weekend. No, Denver isn’t playing this weekend and it sucks, but there have been some of the best moments in franchise and NFL history from this weekend.
The game most in Broncos Country would have at the top of the list is “The Drive.” Jan. 11 was the 33rd anniversary of the AFC title game against the Cleveland Browns. The Broncos 23-20 win in overtime sent John Elway to his first Super Bowl and the organization’s second.
First-and-10 on Denver's 2-yard line. 5:43 remaining. Trailing the #Browns by seven points. Thirty-three years ago today, #BroncosCountry witnessed one of the best moments in #Broncos and #NFL100 history. #TheDrivepic.twitter.com/LIfGj82Crf— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) January 11, 2020
The next season, this time at Mile High Stadium, the two teams met yet again. And, yet again, the game got a name. And, yet again, the game ended in a Broncos 23-20 win. “The Fumble” was yet another miraculous ending that sent Denver to its third Super Bowl.
Some could make the argument that Denver’s 20-17 win over the Oakland Raiders on Jan. 1, 1978, was the moment the franchise made it. To this day, you hear stories of the celebration that took place at Mile High and the sheer adulation the entire city felt. That win sent the Broncos to their first Super Bowl.
You can’t list the AFC Championship Games and not include the three that led to Super Bowl wins. One could argue the 24-21 win on Jan. 11, 1998, at Three Rivers Stadium over the Pittsburgh Steelers was the best and biggest in franchise history. That impressive win sent Elway and Denver to Super Bowl XXXII, and we all know what followed. “This one’s for John!”
The next season at a windy Mile High, and a start to the third quarter that put a slight (major) scare in the fan base with the team trailing the New York Jets 10-0 after the Jets blocked a punt. That’s when the Broncos finally showed up, scored 23-unanswered points for the 23-10 win, and would go on to become back-to-back Super Bowl champs.
And the most recent, the 20-18 win on Jan. 24, 2016, over the New England Patriots where Denver’s defense crushed Tom Brady and held on for the win.
There were also AFC title game wins over the Browns (37-21 on Jan. 14, 1990) and Patriots (26-16 on Jan. 19, 2014).
What’s remarkable is the Broncos have played in 10 AFC Championships and won eight. The two losses came against the Buffalo Bills (10-7 on Jan. 12, 1992) and Steelers (34-17 on Jan. 22, 2006).
Denver may not be playing, and it sucks, but we’ve been graced with some incredible moments in games played on this weekend. As I said last week, for the first time in four years, there’s a quarterback and path in place to hopefully get the franchise back to Championship Sunday sooner rather than later.
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