DENVER (CBS4) – Watching the Broncos play so dismally in the Super Bowl was a major bummer for everyone back in Denver, but for some older fans it brought back memories of other poor performances on the NFL’s biggest stage.
Very little went right for Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. The feeling of heartbreak Denver players and fans felt as the minutes of the second half slowly ticked away were similar to the emotions in the Broncos four Super Bowl losses — specifically in Super Bowls XXI, XXII and XXIV.
“Having watched those losses in the 80s, the wins in the 90s kind of purified the air a little bit,” said longtime Broncos fan and CBS4 employee John Montgomery before the game was even over. “And now that stench in the air has kind of returned.”
The Broncos lost to the Dallas Cowboys 27-10 in their first appearance in the Super Bowl in 1978. But for many fans that year it was great the team even made it at all.
A decade later came several great Broncos seasons that each ended in disastrous fashion in the Super Bowl.
– The Broncos lost Super Bowl XXI on Jan. 25, 1987, to Phil Simms and the New York Giants by a score of 39-20. They actually led 10-9 at halftime but fell apart in the second half.
– The Broncos lost Super Bowl XXII on Jan. 31, 1988, to the Washington Redskins. The Redskins exploded in the second half, scoring 35 points. John Elway’s touchdown pass to Ricky Nattiel on their first offensive play was the only Denver touchdown in that game.
– The Broncos lost Super Bowl XXIV on Jan. 28, 1990, to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco dominated the Broncos in most facets of that game at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Montana threw for five touchdowns and Denver allowed San Francisco to score more points than any other team ever has in the Super Bowl.
CBS4 anchor Jim Benemann described Sunday’s loss as “brutal” for all Broncos fans.
“As someone who covered the Broncos Super Bowls against the Niners, Redskins and Giants, I never thought I’d ever see another Broncos team thoroughly thrashed in the big game,” CBS4’s Jim Benemann said. “Especially not with Peyton Manning.”
CBS4 chief photographer Bob Burke was working at those three Super Bowls, and he said he was shocked by what happened in New Jersey.
“It was good for me to see this,” said Burke, who wasn’t among the news crews that traveled to the East Coast to report for CBS4 this year. “Now I can say that I was not at the Broncos worst Super Bowl ever. It’s good that I didn’t go to this one.”
“This makes you want to follow something else, like soccer … or cage fighting,” Burke joked.
Still, it’s generally expected Manning will return for another season at the helm of the Broncos, and there’s always the chance they could be back to redeem themselves.
“There’s always next year,” Montgomery said.