1998 Denver Broncos: One of the Most Memorable Teams in History
1998 was the best season in Denver Broncos history.
The Broncos entered the season coming off their first Super Bowl victory, defeating the Green Bay Packers 31-24 in Super Bowl XXXII. The majority of that team returned for the following season including Hall of Famer John Elway at quarterback.
Mike Shanahan finished his fourth season as the Broncos coach with an 47-17 record, and a 7-1 mark in the playoffs. Gary Kubiak and Greg Robinson returned as offensive and defensive coordinators.
In 1998, the Broncos won a franchise-best 14 games. The Broncos went 4-0 in games that Elway was out due to injury. Additionally, Denver was 8-0 against AFC west opponents, winning those games by an average of 14 points.
Denver won its first 13 games in a row before losing to the New York Giants 20-16 in Week 15. Out of the Broncos 14 wins, only five were decided by seven points or less. The Broncos had the lead in 52 of 64 quarters that season.
In the playoffs, the Broncos beat the Miami Dolphins 38-3 in the divisional round. In the AFC Championship the Broncos defeated the New York Jets 23-10 to advance to their second straight Super Bowl and sixth in franchise history.
In Super Bowl XXXIII, the Broncos repeated as champions besting former coach Dan Reeves and the Atlanta Falcons 34-19. In his final game, Elway won Super Bowl MVP, completing 18-of-29 passes for 336 yards and one touchdown.
Denver had seven Pro Bowlers in 1998: Elway, Terrell Davis, safety Steve Atwater, linebacker Bill Romanowski, kicker Jason Elam, receiver Ed McCaffrey, and tight end Shannon Sharpe.
The Broncos scored the second-most points in the NFL with 501, averaging 31 points per game. Denver ranked third in total yards with 6,092, second in first downs with 347, seventh in passing yards with 3,624, fifth in touchdown passes with 32, second in rushing yards with 2,468, and first in rushing touchdowns with 26.
Defensively, the Broncos were eighth in points allowed with 309 (19 per game), third in yards rushing allowed with 1,287, and fourth in rushing touchdowns allowed with eight. Denver ranked in the top half of the league with 30 turnovers, ranked 11th in total yards allowed with 4935, 12th in first downs allowed with 283 and 10th in interceptions with 19.
In his final season, Elway led the Broncos in passing. In 13 games, Elway completed 210-of-356 passes for 2,806 yards, 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
In the playoffs, Elway completed 45-of-86 passes for 691 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Elway, who was known for his fourth-quarter heroics throughout his career, led one of his last comebacks against Marty Schottenheimer in Week 14 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Schottenheimer was the same coach that Elway conducted “The Drive” against in the 1987 AFC Championship.
Backup quarterback Bubby Brister played in seven games and started four. Brister completed 78 passes for 986 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Terrell Davis had the best season of his career with 2,008 yards rushing on 392 attempts and 21 rushing touchdowns. Davis also caught 25 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns receiving.
In the playoffs, Davis ran for 468 yards on 78 attempts and scored three rushing touchdowns. Additionally, Davis had 69 yards receiving on four receptions.
Rod Smith led the team in receptions with 86 for 1,222 yards. Smith scored six touchdowns, a total that was third on the team.
McCaffrey and Sharpe were tied for second on the team in receptions with 64. McCaffrey had 1,053 yards receiving and Sharpe had 768. Sharpe and McCaffrey tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns, with 10 each.
Trevor Pryce and Maa Tanuvasa led the Broncos in sacks with 8.5 each. Romanowski was third on the team with 7.5.
Darrien Gordon led the team in interceptions with four. Ray Crockett had three, and Glenn Cadrez, Darrius Johnson, and Romanowski each had two. Gordon and Crockett returned interceptions for touchdowns.
Romanowski led the team in fumble recoveries with three. Tanuvasa was second with two. Linebacker John Mobley led the team in tackles with 93. Gordon was second with 58 and Cadrez was third with 56.
On special teams, Elam made all 58 extra points and was 27-for-33 on field goals. In Week Eight, Elam tied the NFL record for the longest field goal in a game, hitting from 63 yards at the end of the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Punter Tom Rouen punted 66 times averaging 46 yards per punt. Rouen only had one punt blocked during the season, occurring in Week Five against the Philadelphia Eagles and resulting in a safety.
Vaughn Hebron led the Broncos in kickoff returns, gaining 1,216 yards on 46 returns. Hebron returned one kickoff for a touchdown in the Broncos 31-21 loss to the Dolphins in Week 16. Gordon led the Broncos in punt returns with 34 for 379 yards.
The 1998-1999 season was one of the most memorable in Denver Broncos history.
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