There is an outage of sports right now — in Colorado, the U.S. and the world. There's no MLB, no NBA, no March Madness, no ... anything during the coronavirus pandemic.
For the Colorado fan pining for some sports content, check out this list of 10 Colorado great sports moments (tell us your favorite or add to the list in the comments section):
10. Air Force football goes 12-1, ranked No. 5 in nation (1985)
If it weren’t for a 28-21 loss at No. 16 BYU on Nov. 16, 1985, Air Force may have had a shot at a national championship in 1985. Nonetheless, this was still the Falcons’ best season in school history.
Notable wins along the way were a 21-15 victory over No. 15 Notre Dame and a 45-7 romp of Army at Falcon Stadium. The Falcons finished their historic season by beating Texas, 24-16, in the Bluebonnet Bowl.
Fun fact about the 1985 Air Force team: On the roster was freshman quarterback Troy Calhoun, the Falcons’ head coach since 2007.
9. Nuggets upset top-seeded Sonics in playoffs (1994)
While the Nuggets are still looking for their first NBA Finals appearance and have had a lot of postseason heartbreak in their 44-year NBA history, there have still been plenty of positives along the way.
Atop that list is the 1994 first-round upset of the Seattle SuperSonics. The Sonics, led by Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, posted a league-best regular season record that year of 63-19. The 8-seed Nuggets were only two games better than .500.
As was expected, the Sonics cruised to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series, beating Denver by margins of 24 and 10. But back in Denver, the Nuggets playing with nothing to lose, they turned the series on its head.
The Nuggets took Game 3 easily, 110-93, then needed overtime in Game 4 to force a winner-take-all Game 5 back in Seattle on May 7, 1994. Denver, led by Dikembe Mutombo, rallied to tie the game and went to overtime yet again, eventually emerging victorious, 98-94, to become the first 8-seed to upset the No. 1 in the NBA Playoffs.
Denver nearly pulled off the unthinkable for a second straight series, taking Utah to seven games after trailing 3-0, but the Jazz ultimately won Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
8. The Tim Tebow Game (2012)
Tim Tebow’s NFL career fizzled out quickly, but he was responsible for one of the most-exciting NFL playoff moments.
Following a 1-3 start to the season with quarterback Kyle Orton, new head coach John Fox opted to replace Orton with Tebow. The Heisman winner and national champion at Florida, in his second NFL season, led the Broncos to seven wins as a starter and the team sneaked into the postseason with an 8-8 record to win the AFC West.
Enter the Pittsburgh Steelers, who had the best defense in the NFL in 2011 and reached the Super Bowl two of the previous three seasons. The Steelers had four more wins than Denver, but came in as a wild card team.
Tied at 23 and heading to overtime, the Broncos won the coin toss. It took only one play. Tim Tebow to Demaryius Thomas for 80 yards — an NFL postseason record — and like that, Denver pulled off a major playoff upset with one of the most memorable plays in NFL playoff history.
7. MLB, NHL, MLS franchises come to Colorado (1993, ’95, ’96)
OK, there is some obvious chicanery going on here, but each of these didn’t deserve their own entry, yet all deserved to be recognized.
In the span of four years, the Colorado Rockies, Colorado Avalanche and Colorado Rapids all came to the state as new professional sports teams. Until that point, it was only the Broncos and Nuggets (with a six-year NHL run for the Colorado Rockies sprinkled in there).
First came the Rockies, who joined the MLB as an expansion franchise alongside the Florida Marlins. After opening on the road in New York, the Rockies played their first-ever home game April 9, 1993, an 11-4 win against the Montreal Expos in front of more than 80,000 fans at Mile High Stadium.
The Avalanche then joined the NHL for the 1995-96 season and did the unthinkable by winning the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season. It wasn’t an expansion franchise, however, as the team was relocated from Quebec. The Avalanche’s championship was the first by a Colorado pro team.
In 1996, the Colorado Rapids were one of the founding clubs of Major League Soccer. The Rapids played at Mile High Stadium until 2007, when their soccer-specific stadium, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, became their home field. The Rapids won the MLS Cup in 2010.
6. Buffaloes claim national championship in football (1991)
There have been many highs and lows for the Colorado football team. There have been long stretches of good — like the run from 1989-2001, with four conference championships and seven bowl game wins. And some … not so good ones — like most of the Buffaloes’ entirety as a member of the Pac-12.
But flags fly forever, and Colorado’s one and only national title came in 1991 after the 1990 season.
Following a nonconference tie against Tennessee and a loss to Illinois, being No. 1 at the end of the season seemed unlikely. But Colorado rattled off 10 straight wins from that point on, including five against ranked teams.
A big break came for Colorado on Oct. 6, 1990, in the infamous “Fifth Down Game.” The chain crew mistakenly did not flip the down marker from second to third down. The result was a game-winning touchdown run by Charles Johnson.
Another instance of lady luck for Colorado that season came in the Orange Bowl against No. 5 Notre Dame. Raghib Ismail’s would-be, go-ahead, 92-yard punt-return touchdown was called back for a clipping penalty with 43 seconds remaining to give Colorado a 10-9 victory over the Fighting Irish.
5. Broncos win Super Bowl 50 (2016)
The only non-Patriots team to reach the Super Bowl from the AFC from the 2013-18 seasons was the Denver Broncos, who did it twice.
The first was a painful memory we don’t have to delve too deep into — the 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. Two years later, in quite the role reversal, it was once again the defensive effort that propelled the Super Bowl champions. This time, it was the Broncos on the winning end.
The game’s MVP, Von Miller, had two strip sacks of Carolina Panthers quarterback (and 2015 NFL MVP) Cam Newton. One was recovered for a touchdown by Malik Jackson to give Denver a 10-0 lead; the other was recovered at the Carolina 4-yard line and led to a C.J. Anderson score to ice the game.
Though Peyton Manning was a shell of his former self, and this was not the high-powered offensive juggernaut of years prior, Manning went out on top, retiring after winning his second title.
4. ‘The Drive’ (1987)
It’s easy to forget how tough a drive this was with our modern football sensibilities. It’s become second-nature to expect the likes of Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson to magically conjure a game-winning or -tying drive in the blink of an eye.
“The Drive” was a grind, a masterstroke from a 26-year-old quarterback John Elway. It is an exercise in patience, awareness and sheer will power.
It lasted five minutes and 2 seconds, 15 plays for 98 yards. It started with a 5-yard pass (Elway to Sammy Winder from the Denver 2-yard line) and ended with a 5-yard pass (Elway to Mark Jackson for the game-tying touchdown). Elway raises his arms. Jackson seemingly spikes the ball from Cleveland Municipal Stadium into Lake Erie. Rich Karlis’ extra point, and eventual game-winning field goal, are kicked with a bare foot.
It is still one of the greatest drives in football history, and it was one of the first of many memorable moments for the Elway-era Broncos.
3. Avalanche claim 2nd Stanley Cup, Bourque finally gets 1st (2001)
The Avalanche, after relocating from Quebec in 1995, took the league by storm with a Stanley Cup Finals victory in their first season in Denver.
As remarkable as that was, it was the 2000-01 team’s season and eventual championship that had a next-level amount of magic. Colorado went 52-16-10-4 for a franchise-best 118 points and the Presidents’ Trophy for the best record in the league.
Joe Sakic’s 54 goals and goaltender Patrick Roy’s 40 wins still hold as franchise records. Sakic won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s MVP that season.
And then there’s Ray Bourque, the Hall of Fame defenseman who finally won his first Stanley Cup in a storied 22-year career. Bourque is the only player to ever hoist the trophy before the team captain, Joe Sakic, who immediately handed Borque the Cup upon receiving it.
It is difficult to imagine Boston as a city starving for sports championships, but eight months before the Patriots began the city’s title run, Boston actually held a parade for Bourque, the longtime Bruin, winning the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche.
2. ‘Rocktober’: The Rockies’ improbable run to the World Series (2007)
At the end of a 10-2 rout by the Florida Marlins, who chased starter Ubaldo Jimenez for five runs in the first three innings, the Colorado Rockies were sitting at a 76-72 record and 4.5 games back in the NL Wild Card standings on Sept. 15, 2007.
Then the run began.
The Rockies would go on to win 11 straight, including two sweeps of the Dodgers and one of the wild card-leading Padres, and took 13 of their final 14 regular season games to set up Game 163 vs. the Padres.
The Rockies and Padres tied for the NL Wild Card with identical records of 89-73, one game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks for the division title. And thus, because there are no tiebreakers in the MLB, the two squared off for the NL Wild Card tiebreaker Oct. 1, 2007.
A back-and-forth affair sent the two teams into extra innings tied at 6-6. Things looked dire for Colorado when a Scott Hairston two-run home run in the top of the 13th gave San Diego an 8-6 edge.
But like the Rockies had done throughout that magical run, they fought back in the bottom of the 13th. Kaz Matsui and Troy Tulowitzki doubled, then Matt Holliday tripled home the tying run. Jamey Carroll’s sacrifice fly scored Holliday, albeit in controversial fashion, to send the Rockies into the playoffs for just their second appearance in franchise history at that time.
The mojo continued into the postseason. Colorado swept Philadelphia in the NL Division Series, and Arizona in the Championship Series to go to its first — and still only — World Series.
Following a nine-day layoff, the Rockies finally cooled down, and the Red Sox made quick work of them, sweeping the series.
Though the season ended in defeat, it was still the pinnacle for the franchise, and one of the greatest September and postseason runs of all-time.
1. Elway, Broncos win 1st Super Bowl (1998)
Four Super Bowl losses and an aging quarterback on his last legs, time was running out for the Denver Broncos to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.
Coming off the Ambush at Mile High — a stunning 30-27 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who barely snuck into the playoffs at 9-7 — doubts were creeping in about whether legendary Broncos quarterback John Elway would ever bring a title to Denver. After three Super Bowl losses in four years in the late-1980s, the Broncos had only reached the conference championship once thus far in the ’90s.
Following an 11-2 start to the 1997 season, the Broncos fell in back-to-back weeks to the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers. The losses gave the division title to the Kansas City Chiefs, but that ended up being the best possible medicine for the ailing Broncos.
Their playoff opener was a rematch against the Jaguars. After nearly squandering an early 21-0 advantage, Denver rolled through Jacksonville for a 42-17 victory. The Broncos then went on the road to Kansas City and Pittsburgh and eked out victories to return to the Super Bowl.
In Super Bowl XXXII, running back Terrell Davis continued to lead the Broncos’ rushing attack. He ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries en route to a Super Bowl MVP. Of course, it wasn’t a Davis run that stands out all these years later. That honor goes to John Elway’s iconic third-and-6 helicopter leap to get Denver inside the 5-yard line and set up a go-ahead Davis TD in the third quarter.
This wouldn’t be the last Super Bowl for Elway or the Broncos. The next year, Elway’s last, they’d steamroll through the postseason and beat the Atlanta Falcons for back-to-back championships. Nearly two decades later, the Broncos claimed their third title — this time against the Carolina Panthers with Peyton Manning under center for Denver in his final career game.