October 18, 2009
During the Broncos’ 50th season, The Gazette will take a look back at some of the most memorable moments, players, games and plays over the team’s history, counting down a top 10 list every week during the season.
Today: The top 10 worst losses in Broncos history.
10. 1998 regular season: New York Giants 20, Denver 16 — The Broncos were 13-0 and had dreams of a perfect season. This loss was shocking but the pain was eased by a Super Bowl title that season.
9. 2008 season finale: San Diego 52, Denver 21 — The lopsided loss completed an awful collapse, cost the Broncos a division title and ended an era. Mike Shanahan was fired after this stinker.
8. 1973 season finale: Oakland 21, Denver 17 — The Broncos would have won the division title and made their first playoff appearance with a win. Instead, they lost to the rival Raiders, who took the AFC West.
7. 1984 divisional playoff: Pittsburgh 24, Denver 17 — Denver was 13-3 in the regular season and was bounced right away from the playoffs. A John Elway interception with less than 3 minutes left led to Pittsburgh’s game-winning touchdown.
6. Super Bowl XII: Dallas 27, Denver 10 — Craig Morton’s four-interception disaster is still part of Broncos’ lore, but the phenomenal march to the Super Bowl made it a successful season.
5. 2005 AFC Championship Game: Pittsburgh 34, Denver 17 — After the Colts lost, the Broncos hosted the title game against the sixth seed and were favorites to win the Super Bowl. They were blown out and haven’t won a playoff game since.
4. Super Bowl XXI: New York Giants 39, Denver 20 — Even though the Broncos lost, they were defeated by a clearly better team and had a young quarterback on the rise. Still, losing the Super Bowl is never fun.
3. Super Bowl XXIV: San Francisco 55, Denver 10 — Nobody expected the Broncos to beat the powerhouse 49ers, but to lose in this fashion was crushing.
2. 1996 AFC divisional playoff: Jacksonville 30, Denver 27 — That this loss hurt more than some Super Bowl losses speaks to how brutal it was. The Jaguars shocked the Broncos, who wondered if they blew Elway’s last chance at a title.
1. Super Bowl XXII: Washington 42, Denver 10 — The Broncos were back in the Super Bowl, favored in the game and took a 10-0 lead. Then the Redskins ran off 35 second-quarter points behind no-name running back Timmy Smith, who ran for more than 200 yards. Denver wouldn’t win its first Super Bowl for 10 more years.