By my calculations, ESPN, The NFL Network, and NBC are scheduled for approximately 18 hours of pregame coverage of Super Bowl XLVI. You can either tune into these programs to find out the latest team news regarding injuries, final game day preparations, pre-game meals, Saturday night bed checks, team bus arrival times, and other useless trivia knowledge, or you can search the internet for Bronco Super Bowl history. The New England Patriots and New York Giants may have the spotlight today but The Broncos are still the most important team to us. To help get you started, I’ve included a brief synopsis of the Broncos Super Bowl history.
Super Bowl XII: January 15, 1978 (New Orleans, LA) Thanks to a strong defense that was referred to as “The Orange Crush”, and the leadership of new head-coach, Red Miller, the Broncos won the AFC West with a12-2 record, and their first appearance in the big game. Unfortunately, it appeared the Broncos were happy to have just been playing on Super Sunday, and were no match for the Super Bowl-experienced Dallas Cowboys. Eight turnovers plagued the Broncos and were a major contributor to the 27-10 defeat. In addition to the Broncos first time appearance in the league championship, this was also the first Super Bowl played in a dome.
Super Bowl XXI: January 25, 1987 (Pasadena, CA) After completing “The Drive” in Cleveland, Ohio, the Broncos earned the right to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XXI. Similar to the first Super Bowl the Broncos participated in, they were never able to really get into a rhythm and the final scored showed it. The New York Giants easily handled the Broncos, winning 39-20. The ‘nail in the coffin’ moment of this game took some time to develop as the G-Men scored 24 unanswered points in the first 20 minutes of the second half. The momentum had shifted and the 10-9 Bronco halftime lead was a distant memory as Bronco fans realized that this would not be the year the Lombardi Trophy would be brought back to Colorado.
Super Bowl XXII: January 31, 1988 (San Diego, CA) Following a regular season that included a three-week players strike, the Broncos were making their second consecutive appearance in the Super Bowl. Despite a first quarter that saw the Broncos build up a 10-0 lead, by halftime Bronco fans were most likely in a tailspin thanks to the 2nd quarter Washington Redskin explosion that saw them put up 35-points, ultimately ending any hope the Broncos had of winning. The final score of this blowout was 42-10 and most Bronco fans probably felt that this was the rock bottom, and it couldn’t get any worse. Two years later those fans would find out that it could get worse.
Super Bowl XXIV: January 28, 1990 (New Orleans, LA) Joe Montana and the rest of the 49ers had no obstacle whatsoever as they scored the most points ever in a Super Bowl game, as they crushed the Broncos 55-10. The Broncos, who were making their third Super Bowl appearance in four years, also set a record by becoming the first team to lose four Super Bowls. If this was the product the Broncos were going to put on the field when the world was watching, many fans may have felt they would rather not even make it to the game. The pain was becoming too much to bear.
Super Bowl XXXII: January 25, 1998 (San Diego, CA) Just shy of a decade since their last Super Bowl appearance, Bronco fans were cautiously optimistic and excited that the Broncos were back in the championship game. The return felt like it was delayed a year due to the Jacksonville upset in Denver that unexpectedly, ended the 1996 season. This was a different team though – not only was the team sporting new uniforms, they also had developed one of the leagues strongest running games. Bronco fans would not be disappointed again as the underdog Broncos beat the defending champion Green Bay Packers 31-24. Terrell Davis earned the MVP award by gaining 157 yards on 30 carries, and scoring three touchdowns. Davis’ stats are more impressive considering that he missed most of the second quarter with a migraine headache. The Broncos first championship also ended a fourteen year run that saw the NFC winning the Super Bowl. While accepting The Lombardi Trophy, Pat Bowlen claimed that “this one is for John”. As accurate and meaningful as that statement was, in my opinion, this game, this win, this trophy, and the feeling of winning the Super Bowl was for every Bronco fan or player that had endured the four previous losses in the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XXXIII: January 31, 1999 (Miami, FL) After going on an impressive run to start the season with a record of 13-0, the Broncos returned to the Super Bowl to defend their championship. Much of the talk leading up to the game was focused on the Elway-Reeves feud from the mid-late eighties, as well as, rumors around the possible retirement of John Elway. Obviously, once kickoff occurred the talk was meaningless and the play of the teams would ultimately determine who would be crowned champion. No late game heroics were required from Elway, in what would turn out to be his final NFL game, as the Broncos dismantled the Atlanta Falcons 34-19. As a fitting way to end his career, Elway earned the Super Bowl MVP award by completing 18 passes on 29 attempts for a total of 336 yards and one touchdown.