Weather permitting, many Americans will watch fireworks or set them off, themselves, this weekend as we celebrate the independence of the United States of America. In honor of that grand occasion, I thought about the many Bronco games that provided fireworks of a different type.
The game easily surfacing as one of the most exciting, was the San Diego Chargers visiting Denver on November 17, 1985. With five seconds remaining in regulation, Rich Karlis successfully kicked a thirty-four yard field goal; tying the game and sending it to overtime. Even though the Broncos did not win the overtime coin toss, I am sure there was excitement in the air thanks to the Elway led, 7 play, 48 yard drive that set up Karlis’s game tying field goal meaning more than 60 minutes would be required to determine the victor in this AFC West showdown. Once overtime started, optimism quickly dwindled as the Chargers drove toward the south end zone and found themselves in field goal range. As the Chargers’ Bob Thomas lined up to kick a field goal, whatever hope Bronco fans had left was up in smoke, just like those fireworks mentioned earlier. Lost hope quickly turned to pure excitement when Dennis Smith blocked the field goal, and it was scooped up by Louis Wright, who galloped to the end zone for a Bronco victory. Unfortunately, as Bronco fans celebrated, thinking they had won the game, the referees called back the touchdown due to the Broncos calling a timeout prior to the San Diego field goal attempt. Not only was victory snatched from the Broncos and their fans, but salt was added to the wound, because the Chargers had another opportunity to win the game – a mulligan, if you will.
In a déjà vu moment, Thomas’ second field goal attempt was also blocked by Dennis Smith and, once again, Louis Wright gathered the ball after a perfect bounce and ran 60 yards to the north end zone scoring his second touchdown – this one, however, was not called back and gave the Broncos an exciting 30-24 victory. After the game, Dennis Smith said, “It’s the most bizarre game I’ve ever played in.” After watching this game, Bronco fans definitely know fireworks are not just in July!
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