The Denver Broncos are a professional football team in the National Football League (the NFL). The Denver Broncos play in the American Football Conference (AFC) West Division with three other teams: the Oakland Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers. The Denver Broncos have won 2 Super Bowl Championships. INVESCO Field at Mile High, located in Denver, Colorado, hosts all Denver Broncos home games.
In 1960, the Denver Broncos franchise joined the ranks of professional football as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL). During the first 10 years of the Denver Broncos existence in the AFL, the team never recorded a winning record and only once did it finish with a .500 record – 7-7 in 1962. Because of the lack of regular season success, the Denver Broncos never appeared in AFL post-season play. Despite this futility, the Denver Broncos did win the first AFL game ever played when the team defeated the Boston Patriots 13-10 in September 1960. In a pre-season game in August 1967, the Denver Broncos became the first AFL team to defeat an NFL team when they defeated the Detroit Lions 13-7. The AFL Denver Broncos featured star Wide Receiver Lionel Taylor and explosive Running Back Floyd Little.
Following the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, the Denver Broncos continued to play lackluster football. The Denver Broncos did not make the playoffs in its first 7 seasons in the NFL, but the team did record back-to-back winning records in 1973 and 1974 and recorded a franchise high 9 wins in 1976. These winning teams brought about a change in attitude in the Denver Broncos franchise which ultimately led to their first ever playoff appearance in 1977. In 1977, new Head Coach Red Miller utilized a dominating defense nicknamed the “Orange Crush Defense” to finish atop the AFC West with a 12-2 record. In the franchise’s first ever playoff game at Mile High Stadium, the Denver Broncos defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-21 to win the first playoff game in franchise history. Led by Denver Broncos Linebacker Tom Jackson’s 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery, the Denver Broncos outscored the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-7 in the 2nd half to advance to its first ever AFC Championship Game. The Denver Broncos then advanced to their first ever Super Bowl when the team defeated the intra-division rival Oakland Raiders 20-17 in the AFC Championship Game. The 1977 dream season came to an end, however, when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Denver Broncos 27-10 in Super Bowl XII by forcing the Denver Broncos offense to commit 8 turnovers. Two Dallas Cowboys defensive linemen were name the Super Bowl MVP’s – Randy White and Harvey Martin. In 1978, the Denver Broncos repeated as AFC West Champions, but lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 33-10 in the 1st round of the playoffs. In 1979, the Denver Broncos finished 2nd in the AFC West with a 10-6 record and lost in the Wild Card round of the playoffs to the Houston Oilers 13-7.
After a 3-year absence from the playoffs from 1980 through 1982, the Denver Broncos started a run of 6 playoff appearances in 9 years from 1983 through 1991. Dan Reeves was the Denver Broncos head coach and during that 9-year stretch, the Denver Broncos finished atop the AFC West 5 times, advanced to the Super Bowl 3 times (all losses) and lost in another AFC Championship Game. Although it was a frustrating period because the Denver Broncos could never seem to get over the hump and win a Super Bowl, no one could argue with the success that Dan Reeves achieved during his tenure as head coach, especially when Quarterback John Elway arrived in Denver in 1983. Although the Baltimore Colts originally draft John Elway with the #1 pick in the 1983 draft, Elway stated that he would play MBL baseball instead of playing for the Baltimore Colts and requested that he be traded to a team of his choosing. The Denver Broncos were one of those teams and the trade was consummated before the start of the 1983 season. In Elway’s first season in the NFL, he led the Denver Broncos to a 9-7 record and a playoff appearance. Although the Denver Broncos lost to the Seattle Seahawks 31-7 in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, the future looked bright for the Denver Broncos. The following season, the Denver Broncos finished atop the AFC West with a 13-3 record. But once again, the Denver Broncos exited the playoffs early with a Divisional round playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-17 after a John Elway interception late in the 4th quarter set up the game winning touchdown score for the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 1985, the Denver Broncos finished with a respectable 11-5 record, but because of stiff competition in the AFC that season, the Denver Broncos did not even make the playoffs. All of the recent regular season and playoff success finally paid off for the Denver Broncos in 1986. The Denver Broncos finished atop the AFC West with an 11-5 record. John Elway led the Denver Broncos to a 22-17 victory over the New England Patriots in the Divisional round of the playoffs. The next week, John Elway orchestrated a 98-yard drive late in the 4th quarter and tied the game at 20 with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Wide Receiver Mark Jackson with only 37 seconds remaining. This improbable drive in hostile territory later came to be known as “The Drive”. The Denver Broncos won the game 23-20 in overtime after Rich Karlis’ 33-yard field goal made its way through the uprights. The Denver Broncos met their match in Super Bowl XXI, however, as the New York Giants defeated the Denver Broncos 39-20 behind stellar defensive play and an unbelievable performance by New York Giants Quarterback Phil Simms. Simms outplayed Elway to win the Super Bowl MVP award by completing 88% of his passes (an NFL post-season record) and throwing 3 touchdown passes. In 1987, the Denver Broncos won their 2nd consecutive AFC West title with a 10-4- record in the strike shortened season. The Denver Broncos crushed the Houston Oilers 34-10 in the Divisional round of the playoffs and defeated the Cleveland Browns 38-33 in a rematch of the 1986 AFC Championship Game. In this 1987 AFC Championship Game, the Denver Broncos raced out to a 21-7 halftime lead, but the Cleveland Browns tied the game at 31 in the 2nd half courtesy of 4 touchdown passes by Quarterback Bernie Kosar. John Elway put the Denver Broncos ahead 38-31 with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Winder with less than 4 minutes to play in regulation. As the Cleveland Browns marched deep into Denver Broncos territory to presumably score the game-tying touchdown, Running Back Earnest Byner fumbled the football at the Denver Broncos’ 8-yard line and the game was over. In Super Bowl XXII, the Denver Broncos ran into another hot quarterback in the Washington Redskins’ Doug Williams. After the Denver Broncos built a 10-0 1st quarter lead, the Washington Redskins scored 35 points in the 2nd quarter (a Super Bowl record) en route to a 42-10 victory. Quarterback Doug Williams threw for over 340 yards and 4 touchdown passes and was named the Super Bowl MVP. Two years later in 1989, the Denver Broncos once again won the AFC West with an 11-5 record. In the Divisional round of the playoffs, John Elway orchestrated another touchdown drive with less than 3 minutes remaining in regulation to give the Denver Broncos a 24-23 victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. The Denver Broncos once again defeated the Cleveland Browns in another AFC Championship Game, this time in a more decisive 37-21 fashion. But it was groundhog’s day all over again, as the San Francisco 49ers thoroughly dominated the Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV. San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Joe Montana threw for a record 5 touchdown passes en route to another Super Bowl MVP award. The 55 points that the Denver Broncos surrendered to the San Francisco 49ers was a Super Bowl record, as was the 45 point margin of victory. The Denver Broncos lost their 3rd Super Bowl in 4 years and would go down in NFL history as one of the teams that could never win the big game. Head Coach Dan Reeves advanced the Denver Broncos to one more AFC Championship Game in 1991. But that playoff run also ended with another loss – this time a 10-7 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Current Head Coach Mike Shanahan took over the head coaching responsibilities in 1995. Although the Denver Broncos did not make the playoffs that season, Head Coach Mike Shanahan started the process of piecing together the right elements to make the Denver Broncos a consistent playoff team year in and year out. In 1996, the Denver Broncos dominated AFC play during the regular season and finished atop the AFC west with a 13-3 record, the best record in the conference. But in the Divisional round of the playoffs, the Jacksonville Jaguars overcame a 12-point 1st quarter deficit and scored on 6 straight offensive possessions to upset the Denver Broncos 30-27 in Mile High Stadium. The stunned Denver Broncos fan base was horrified at the outcome, but the pain they felt would soon seem like a distant memory following back-to-back Super Bowl Championships the next two seasons in 1997 and 1998. In 1997, the Denver Broncos 12-4 record was only good enough for 2nd place in the AFC West, so the team entered post-season play as a wild card team. The Denver Broncos exacted revenge on the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 42-17 drubbing in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The next week, the Denver Broncos overcame a hostile Arrowhead Stadium environment and rode the legs of Running Back Terrell Davis to a 14-10 over the favored Kansas City Chiefs. The Denver Broncos needed one more road victory, a 24-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Three Rivers Stadium, to advance to a Super Bowl XXXII match up against the Green Bay Packers. Super Bowl XXXII showcased two great NFL Quarterbacks, John Elway and Brett Favre in a back and forth hard-fought struggle. The Denver Broncos ultimately won the game 31-24 behind the powerful running of Terrell Davis, who was suffering from a severe migraine headache that blurred his vision from time to time throughout the game. Despite the injury, Terrell Davis earned Super Bowl MVP honors by rushing for 157 yards and a Super Bowl record 3 touchdowns. The Denver Broncos had finally brought a league championship to the loyal Denver Broncos fan base after losing its first 4 Super Bowl appearances. The Super Bowl win was also the first win by an AFC team in the Super Bowl in 14 years. The next year, the Denver Broncos dominated AFC play once again and finished the season with only 2 losses and another AFC West crown. The Denver Broncos easily beat the Miami Dolphins 38-3 in the Divisional round of the playoffs and the New York Jets 23-10 in the AFC Championship Game to make its 2nd straight Super Bowl appearance. This time around, in Super Bowl XXXIII, the Denver Broncos crushed the Atlanta Falcons (led by former Denver Broncos head coach Dan Reeves) 34-19 to win the franchise’s 2nd consecutive Super Bowl Championship. John Elway won the Super Bowl MVP award by passing for 336 yards and one touchdown, and rushing for another touchdown. The 38-year old Elway announced his retirement shortly after that Super Bowl victory, as he now had 2 Vince Lombardi trophies that he fought for so hard early in his career.
Since 2000, the Denver Broncos have not had a losing season. The Denver Broncos have advanced to the playoffs 4 times during that 6 year stretch, but have not made another Super Bowl appearance. The Denver Broncos came awfully close in 2005 when the team finished atop the AFC West with a 13-3 record. Their playoff run fell 2 games short, however, as the Pittsburgh Steelers reeled off 3 straight road victories, including a 34-17 win over the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, to advance to Super Bowl XL. The Pittsburgh Steelers ultimately won Super Bowl XL over the Seattle Seahawks to give the Pittsburgh Steelers its 5th overall Super Bowl title.
During the 2006-7 NFL season, the Denver Broncos finished the season with a 9-7 record, but that was not good enough for post-season play in the difficult AFC. With hopes high for a better 2007-8 NFL season, the Denver Broncos struggled through inconsistent play and injuries and were only able to win 7 games during the season - Head Coach Mike Shanahan's first losing season since 1999. The future still looks bright for the Denver Broncos with young Quarterback Jay Cutler, and emerging star Running Back Selvin Young and a solid receiving corps with Brandon Marshall, Darrell Jackson, Keary Colbert and Brandon Stokley. A return to post-season play in 2008 is not out of the question.