To help get Bronco Country through the TRUE offseason, I will be reviewing some past games against the teams the Broncos will face during the 2012 regular season.
After opening the 2012 season on Sunday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bronco organization will pack up and head to Atlanta, Georgia for another prime time matchup. This time the Broncos will be featured on Monday Night Football when they face the Atlanta Falcons. The Broncos have travelled to Atlanta six times in their history and have come away with four wins. Below is a brief synopsis of those games.
November 16, 2008: The Broncos handed the Falcons their first home loss of the 2008 season when they were able to withstand one last rally by the Matt Ryan-led Falcons and escape the Georgia Dome with a 24-20 victory. With 5-1/2 minutes remaining in the game, Jay Cutler connected with Daniel Graham for a nine yard touchdown pass, which proved to be the winning score. Cutler had an average day and minimal errors, connecting on 19 of 27 pass attempts, one for a touchdown. Cutler had no interceptions, which allowed his passer rating to be 106.4. The running back committee of Tatum Bell (acquired from Detroit a few days before this game), P.J. Pope, and Peyton Hillis combined for 113 yards on twenty-one carries and two touchdowns (both by Hillis). Due to injuries, Champ Bailey and three projected starters at linebacker were out, forcing Spencer Larsen to start at middle linebacker and fullback, the first time in team history this was ever done. Ex-Bronco kicker Jason Elam, now an Atlanta Falcon, kicked two first-half field goals of 46 and 36 yards. After the 2007 season when Elam departed for Atlanta, the Broncos signed Matt Prater, who was 1-2 on field goals, kicking a 20-yarder early in the fourth quarter. The 1998 Atlanta Falcon team, which lost to Denver in Super Bowl XXXIII 34-19, was honored at halftime.
September 28, 1997: In a season that would end with their first NFL Championship, the Broncos beat the Falcons 29-21, improving their mark to 5-0 in the young 1997 season. The John Elway to Shannon Sharpe connection was too much to handle as the duo connected six times for 119-yards and one touchdown. After all was said and done, Elway completed 18 of 33 pass attempts for three touchdowns and one interception. Terrell Davis added 79 yards on the ground and one touchdown. Willie Green and Detron Smith were the recipients of Elway’s other two touchdown tosses.
September 22, 1985: In Elway’s third season as a Denver Bronco, the offense kicked into gear when they traveled to Atlanta with a 1-1 record. Thanks to eight scoring drives that resulted in five touchdowns and three field goals, the Broncos improved their record to 2-1 with a 44-28 drubbing of the Falcons. A 65-yard touchdown pass to Vance Johnson in the first quarter opened the Bronco onslaught, while a 31-yard toss to Butch Johnson in the fourth quarter closed out the scoring. In between those scoring plays, Clint Sampson pulled in a 17-yard Elway pass for a touchdown and running backs Sammy Winder and Gene Lang added short touchdown dives. Rich Karlis contributed with field goals of 42, 25, and 47 yards. Elway completed 50% of his thirty-eight pass attempts for 291 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Vance Johnson led the Bronco receivers with four catches for 99-yards, while Gene Lang led the Bronco running backs with 77-yards rushing. The forty-four points put on the scoreboard was the highest output for the Broncos in the 1985 season, which unfortunately did not include a trip to the postseason despite the Broncos 11-5 record. The Raiders, who were calling Los Angeles home during the 1985 season, handed the Broncos two overtime losses and claimed the AFC West crown by compiling a record of 12-5.
September 16, 1979: Denver Bronco quarterback Norris Weese rushed for two touchdowns and kicker Jim Turner booted two field goals, one of which was the game winner in OT, giving the Broncos a 20-17 win in the third week of the 1979 season. Weese also added 215 yards through the air. Haven Moses led the team with five catches for 99 yards. Although on the short end of the win-loss stick, Atlanta quarterback Steve Bartkowski lit-up the Broncos for 20 completions resulting in 326 yards and two touchdowns. The overtime win improved the Broncos to 2-1 in a season that would see them finish 10-6. Two of those losses, however, occurred in the last two games of the season, ultimately costing them the division crown, finishing second to the 12-4 San Diego Chargers.
November 23, 1975: The Broncos drew first blood in this contest when Paul Smith picked up an Atlanta fumble and returned it 38-yards for a Denver touchdown. This gift touchdown was returned unfortunately in the fourth quarter when Charley Johnson’s pass was intercepted by Ray Brown and returned 41-yards for an Atlanta touchdown making the score 35-21 putting the game out of reach for the Broncos. The quarterbacks who played in this game, two for the Broncos and one for the Falcons, combined for a total of eight interceptions. Bronco quarterbacks Charley Johnson and Steve Ramsey threw three and two picks, respectively, while Falcon quarterback Steve Bartkowski ended the day with three picks.
November 26, 1972: In a season that would see the Broncos finish third in the AFC West with a 5-9 record, the team made their very first trip to Atlanta to face the Atlanta Falcons. The Broncos were unable to overcome a 16-13 halftime deficit and ended up losing 23-20. Charley Johnson and Steve Ramsey split the quarterback duties and ended the game with a respectable stat line completing fourteen passes for 229 yards and one touchdown between the two of them. Rod Sherman led the team in receiving with four catches for 44-yards and one touchdown. Leading rusher for the Broncos was Joe Dawkins who gained 61-yards and scored one touchdown on sixteen attempts. In the first half Jim Turner successfully kicked two field goals of 13 and 38 yards.
Topics: Atlanta Falcons, Butch Johnson, Charley Johnson, Daniel Graham, Denver Broncos, Haven Moses, Jason Elam, Jay Cutler, Jim Turner, John Elway, Matt Prater, Matt Ryan, Rich Karlis, Shannon Sharpe, Steve Bartkowski, Steve Ramsey, Terrell Davis, Vance Johnson