Denver Broncos: Which devastating playoff loss was the worst?

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4 Jan 1997: Quarterback Mark Brunell of the Jacksonville Jaguars moves the ball during a playoff game against the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado. The Jaguars won the game, 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule /Allsport

The Denver Broncos have one of the most storied traditions in all of the NFL, full of thrilling playoff wins and three Super Bowl victories. But there have been some crushing losses along the way.

For quite some time, the Broncos were a punchline to every Super Bowl blowout joke. John Elway‘s teams in the late 1980s reached the Super Bowl three times and were outmatched, outclassed and flat out embarrassed in all three.

It wasn’t until the Buffalo Bills lost four straight Super Bowls in the 1990s that many of those jokes left Denver and arrived in western New York.

Later in his career, with a much better supporting cast, Elway was able to finally win it all, in fact, winning two Super Bowls in a row before retiring from the game. The Broncos then added another Super Bowl in 2015 in what would prove to be Peyton Manning‘s final game.

But here, we’re going to throw out those Super Bowl defeats and focus on just two devastating playoff losses. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996 and against the Baltimore Ravens in 2012.

Both of these losses share similarities and both of them stick in the craw of Broncos fans and will forever, despite the team reaching the top of the NFL mountain after each loss.

An argument can easily be made that without these two losses, the Broncos might have five Lombardi’s sitting in their trophy room. Yet, deciding which of these losses stings more is quite difficult.

If you were to poll 100 Broncos fans on that question, you might get a 50-50 response.

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