The Denver Broncos began operations in 1960 as a member of the American Football League. It is quite surprising that to this day, two of the longest plays in team history still stand from those early days of the franchise.
When we think of long pass plays in Broncos history, we think of Rod Smith catching an 80-yard touchdown pass from John Elway in Super Bowl 33. In more recent years, Jerry Jeudy scored on this incredible 92-yard touchdown reception against the Las Vegas Raiders.
In November 2008, during his rookie season, Eddie Royal caught a 93-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler in a game against the Cleveland Browns.
In October 1981, Steve Watson caught a pass from Craig Morton and took it 95 yards for a touchdown. What was remarkable about that is that just two weeks prior to that, he caught a 93-yard touchdown pass in a game against the San Diego Chargers.
That came close to breaking the record, but not quite.
The record came all the way back in the 1962 season. September 21, 1962, to be exact. In a 41-16 loss to the Boston Patriots, a wide receiver named Jerry Tarr caught a 97-yard touchdown pass from George Shaw.
Tarr was selected in the 17th round of the 1962 AFL Draft and that was the only season he played professionally. He had just eight receptions for his entire career, with the record-setter being one of them.
That same season, just one week earlier, a wide receiver by the name of Al Frazier had a 96-yard touchdown catch on a pass thrown by Frank Tripucka against the Buffalo Bills. It's quite amazing that those two catches, just six days apart, still stand as the two longest receptions in Broncos history.
Who had the longest rush in Broncos history?
The longest run play in Broncos' history was accomplished by a more recognizable name, one who is part of the team's Ring of Fame. Almost shockingly, this play also came during that same 1962 AFL season.
The date was October 5, 1962, and the Broncos pounded the Oakland Raiders 44-7 on that day. Gene Mingo, who had a total of 91 yards rushing in the game, broke off an 82-yard touchdown run that stands as the longest in team history over 60 years later.
It's surprising to consider the great running backs in Broncos history and realize that the team has never had a rush play go longer than 82 yards. But that's not to take anything away from Mingo, who was a do-it-all player that could catch passes, return kicks and punts and even kick field goals.
Not bad for a guy who dropped out of high school and went into the Navy. He later heard about the debut of the AFL and wrote a letter to the Broncos after hearing about a player he used to play against at Army being signed by the team. The Broncos offered him a contract despite him not playing any college football.
Now, he's a member of the team's Ring of Fame and he holds the record for the longest running play in Broncos history.
As for that 1962 season that saw all of these big plays, just the third in the team's existence, the Broncos finished 7-7 and failed to make the playoffs.