By PFC Broncos Blogger Lon Anderson
I became a fan of the Denver Broncos during the Orange Crush days of late 1977. I was a fan of the underdog in my formative years and the Broncos upset of the powerful Pittsburgh Steelers that year pushed my fandom over the top.
As any longtime fan of the NFL or the Broncos knows, from 1977 to 1990, Denver went to the Super Bowl four times, once under Red Miller and three times under Dan Reeves. Each time the Broncos were sent home with the losers’ share of the Super Bowl purse.
To me, the most brutal Broncos defeat was not in the Super Bowl but rather in the AFC Divisional Round after the 1996 season. Denver was 13-3 and the #1 seed and Elway, although aging, was surrounded by Hall of Fame caliber players including Steve Atwater, Gary Zimmerman, and of course Terrell Davis. The team was ranked in the top five in both offense and defense and appeared on the way to a first Super Bowl title.
Making things worse was the fact that the opponent was a second year expansion team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. After barely making the playoffs and edging the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wildcard Round, it did not seem possible that the Jaguars would even make it a game, let alone pull off an upset.
It appeared that most of the Broncos players felt that way and did not take the Jaguars seriously. The signature play was Michael Dean Perry not hustling off the field after a third down stop. The resulting 12 men on the field penalty keep the Jags’ drive alive, a drive that would give Jacksonville the winning margin.
The fact that Denver went on to win Super Bowl 32 and 33 takes some of the sting off of that defeat but it has been over 15 years since that game and I am not over it. I doubt I ever will be.
There has been a lot written about the similarities between that loss and this year’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Same record, same seed, same age of the Hall of Fame QBs, same day of the game, etc. I do think that Elway and Company used the loss to the Jags as motivation over the next two years and I believe that Peyton Manning, Champ Bailey and the rest of the Broncos will use the loss to the Ravens as motivation to advance to Super Bowl 48 in New Jersey.
For some reason, I did not take the loss to the Ravens as hard as that loss to the Jags. Maybe it is because I’m older and it doesn’t matter as much as it used to. (Not likely.) Or maybe the sting of the loss to the Jags conditioned me to accept the loss to the Ravens. (Possibly.)
Football season is almost over but as this site proclaims “we have no offseason”. The next 12 months will be exciting for Broncos fans as we get to see two future Hall of Famers (Peyton and Champ) get our favorite team in position to win another Super Bowl championship.
My Super Bowl pick: Ravens 24, Niners 21
Enjoy the Super Bowl.
Denver Broncos Fan since 1977
Twitter handle: @landers07