Back into the weekly series history reports! And what a report we have this week! Let's take a look at the Packers' history against the Denver Broncos. Currently, the Packers lead the head-to-head series in the regular season by the mark of 6-5-1. Sadly, though, the Broncos have won the only postseason meeting between the teams.
The Denver Broncos, like many AFL teams, entered the NFL as a result of the AFL-NFL merger. Curiously, all four current AFC West teams were charter AFL members as well. That first year, the Packers did not face the Broncos, but did play them in 1971, a game which saw the Packers blow out the Broncos by the score of 34-13.
The Packers, however, began a precipitous slide into the NFL's basement by the mid-1970s, and the series reflected this. In 1975, the Broncos defeated the Packers, 23-13, in Denver. Three years later, again in Denver, the rapidly fading 1978 Packers team took a 3-0 halftime lead in Denver, only to lose 16-3.
Green Bay's misfortunes in the Mile High City continued in 1984. The Broncos returned two turnovers for touchdowns, and while the Packers rallied to tie, a late field goal ultimately won the game for Denver, 17-14. In 1987, the Packers finally hosted the Broncos again, in Week 2 that year. Denver had just lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants the year before and were among the favorites to play in the game. With another NFL strike looming--the third week in 1987 was in fact cancelled when the players went on strike--the Packers and Broncos played to a 17-17 tie in Milwaukee. It was the Packers' last tie until the 2013 season and is the Broncos' most recent tie to date.
Denver got at least a little bit of revenge for the tie in 1990, by defeating the Packers 22-13 in Denver. By now, the Packers were 0-4 in Denver and had not yet faced the Broncos in Lambeau Field. That changed in 1993, however. With Brett Favre at quarterback, the Packers raced out to a 30-7 lead at halftime. In the second half, John Elway led the Broncos on a furious comeback, closing to 30-27 and then getting the ball back in the closing minutes with a chance to win. New signee Reggie White, at this time in his first season in Green Bay, put a thrilling end to the rally by sacking Elway three plays in a row, securing Green Bay's 30-27 victory.
In 1996, the teams met in Green Bay in what was viewed as a possible Super Bowl preview. Without Elway, though, the Broncos had little chance of victory. In the second half, the Packers opened up on offense, scoring at will against Denver and pulling away for a 41-6 rout. The Broncos never recovered from this loss and were bounced out of the playoffs by upstart Jacksonville, while the Packers would go on to win Super Bowl XXXI over the New England Patriots.
A year later, the long-awaited Favre vs. Elway Super Bowl matchup occurred. Although the Packers led early, Terrell Davis ran over, around, and through the Green Bay defense for 157 yards and three touchdowns, on his way to winning MVP honors. The Broncos won the Super Bowl, 31-24, giving Elway his first championship after three lopsided losses in the late 1980s.
Two years later, the Packers went into Denver, but the Broncos gave notice that despite their 0-4 start, they were not done yet. Denver dominated the Packers, 31-10, as Green Bay fell to 0-5 in games played in Colorado.
In 2003, the Broncos and Packers met in the regular season finale in Green Bay. With a playoff berth already locked up and no possible change in their seeding in play, Denver simply played to get through the full game. The Packers, meanwhile, needed a win and help to make the playoffs. It quickly became apparent that the Packers would win, and thoughts turned elsewhere as scoreboard watching became the norm in and out of Lambeau Field. The Packers would have clinched a playoff berth regardless had the 49ers defeated the Seahawks in San Francisco the day before, but Seattle had already won. Green Bay's next hope would be if the Cowboys defeated the Saints in New Orleans, but the Saints won, so that situation would not work either. Green Bay's last hope seemed an impossibility--to have the hapless Arizona Cardinals--who had won just three games all season long--somehow defeat the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings. All Minnesota had to do was win, and with just five minutes to go in their game, the Vikings led 17-6. Even as the Packers pulled out a 31-3 lead, it looked as if all was for naught as the Vikings kept leading. In the last few minutes, the impossible happened. Arizona somehow pulled out a rally, closing to 17-12 with just under two minutes to go. The Cardinals then recovered the onside kick. With seconds to go, and down to their last shot, Josh McCown threw a desperation pass into the end zone. Unbelievably, Nate Poole caught the pass in the end zone, giving Arizona a shocking 18-17 victory over the Vikings, which caused the crowd at Lambeau Field to cheer wildly for practically the last ten minutes of the game, and sent the Packers to the playoffs as the NFC North champion.
In 2007, the teams met in Denver. It seemed impossible to top the drama of the 2003 game, but the 2007 game succeeded in doing so. The Broncos initially led, 7-0, but in a harbinger of things to come, the Packers' first play after the ensuing kickoff was a 79-yard touchdown pass to James Jones. Green Bay would take a 13-7 lead in at the half before the Broncos rallied. With seconds to go in the game, Denver scored a field goal to tie the game at 13-13 and send the game into overtime. In the extra period, the Packers won the toss and elected to receive. As it turned out, the game was decided at that moment. On the first play after the opening kickoff of overtime, Favre hit Greg Jennings for an 82-yard game-winning touchdown as the Packers won another dramatic game, 19-13. It was also the Packers' first victory in Denver in six tries.
Most recently, in 2011, the Packers and Broncos met at Lambeau Field. After two tough games in Carolina and Chicago, a home game against a weak Broncos team was what the Packers needed. The Packers struggled early on defense as the Broncos kept things close in the first half. In fact, the Packers scored a late touchdown in the first half to take a 28-17 lead into the locker rooms. After the half ended, though, the Packers put the finishing touches on a 49-23 blowout. Things got so bad for the Broncos that Packers fans began chanting for Tim Tebow to enter the game late.
What are your memories of the Packers playing the Broncos?