Denver Broncos: The Top 10 Greatest Broncos vs. Raiders Games
On September 12th, the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders will meet on Monday Night Football to play for the 102nd time in their storied history. The Raiders currently lead the series 58–41–2. They have met in the playoffs twice. Each team has won once.
This AFC West rivalry has seen it all: conspiracies, blowouts, comebacks, bench clearing brawls, last second field goals, big hits, and even one head coach who has coached on both sidelines.
Here are the 10 greatest games in the rivalry.
Well, at least from a Broncos fan point of view.
10. The Tie
Denver Broncos QB #12 Charley Johnson
October 22, 1973—Denver 23, Oakland 23
A tie? How does a tie get on this list? Wait...hear me out.
The Denver Broncos had never been on Monday Night Football, but in 1973 Howard Cosell and the Monday night crew made their way to the Mile High City.
The Broncos took an early lead after a Billy Thompson fumble return gave them a 7-0 lead.
The Raiders battled back, and with just 41 seconds left in the game, George Blanda kicked a 49 yard field goal to give them a 23-20 lead. It looked like the Raiders would defeat Denver yet again.
However, Charley Johnson, the veteran Bronco quarterback, wasn't done. He led the Broncos downfield with help from running back Floyd Little and as the clock expired kicker Jim Turner hit a 35-yard field goal to tie the game.
The Broncos avoided the loss and went on to their first winning season in Broncos history.
9. The Spoiler
#14 QB Brian Griese
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
December 30, 2001—Denver 23, Oakland 17
Okay, we got the tie out of the way. Now we can move on to Bronco wins.
This game, in some ways, may best illustrate the series.
The Broncos had nothing to play for. They had already been eliminated from the playoff picture. The Raiders, however, could clinch home field in the playoffs with a win.
Yet the Broncos were the team that played inspired. Broncos quarterback Brian Griese threw for one touchdown and ran for another as the Broncos knocked off the Raiders 23-17.
The Broncos played spoiler to the Raiders home field chances and the home crowd at Invesco Field loved it.
8. The Timeout
Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
September 16, 2007—Denver 23, Oakland 20
The Broncos faced Oakland in Week 2 of the 2007-2008 season and led 17-3 at halftime behind a touchdown pass from Jay Cutler and a touchdown run from Cecil Sapp.
But in the second half the Raiders stormed back. They scored 17 straight points to take the lead 20-17.
Broncos kicker Jason Elam tied the game with a little over two minutes to play in regulation and the game was headed to overtime.
Oakland drove downfield at the beginning of overtime and with 11:13 remaining the Raiders strong-legged kicker Sebastian Janikowski drilled a 52 yard field goal to win the game. The Raiders rushed the field to celebrate.
However, the referees had blown the whistle. As the Raiders center had raised his head in preparation of the snap, Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan had called timeout.
Janikowski would have to make it again.
The second kick hit the left upright and the Denver fans went wild.
Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler would drive the team deep into Raiders territory and with 5:48 left in overtime Elam would hit the game winner.
Raider Nation is still seething.
7. The Hit
Denver Broncos LB #77 Karl Mecklenburg
Mike Powell/Getty Images
September 30, 1984—Denver 16, Los Angeles 13
The Broncos would beat the visiting Raiders at Mile High Stadium in a defensive struggle on this day. The Denver defense would allow only 281 total yards in a game that saw Bronco linebackers Tom Jackson and Rick Dennison each sack Raider quarterback Jim Plunkett once.
Broncos running back Gerald Willhite scored a touchdown and kicker Rich Karlis kicked three field goals to provide all the scoring needed on this day.
However, the game may be best remembered for a Karl Mecklenburg hit. As Plunkett lofted a swing pass to the shifty Raider running back Marcus Allen, Mecklenburg executed an absolutely perfect hit on the runner.
Mecklenburg knocked Allen out cold, and a Bronco legend was born.
6. The Game That Changed the Series
Denver Broncos WR #83 Anthony Miller
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
October 16, 1995—Denver 27, Oakland 0
Entering the 1995-1996 season the Broncos were struggling. They just couldn't beat the Raiders. They had lost six games in a row to their bitter rival including losing three times in the 93-94 season. In fact, over the previous fifteen games played against the Raiders, the Broncos had lost thirteen.
But, in 1995, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen hired former Broncos offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan. Shanahan had also previously been the Raiders head coach during the 88-89 season and had been fired midseason by Raider owner Al Davis.
Shanahan took the Broncos job with a knowledge of Denver, a great relationship with quarterback John Elway, and an extreme contempt for the Raiders.
Shanahan took the job and immediately circled every Raider game on the schedule. "Raider Week" had an extra intensity to it and both the players and fans responded in kind.
Shanahan's first meeting against his old team as Broncos Head Coach saw home team Broncos overwhelm Oakland.
John Elway threw two touchdown passes to wide receiver Anthony Miller and the game was never in doubt.
The Broncos would go on to beat the Raiders 21 out of the next 28 games under Shanahan.
5. The Comeback
#7 QB John Elway
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
December 24, 1995—Denver 31, Oakland 28
Entering the 4th quarter of their 1995 regular season finale the Broncos trailed the Raiders 28-17. The Raiders had scored 14 points in the third quarter on two touchdown receptions by Tim Brown.
Then John Elway went to work. Elway led the Broncos to 17 straight 4th quarter points, capping the final drive with a 37-yard field goal from Jason Elam.
The kick gave the Broncos the lead with just 48 seconds left as the Broncos closed their season with a comeback win.
Mike Shanahan's Broncos now had two wins in a row.
4. The Comeback 2
#80 WR Rod Smith
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
November 4, 1996—Denver 22, Oakland 21
The following season, in front of a national audience on Monday Night Football, the Broncos found themselves in a similar situation.
At Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum the Broncos now trailed the Raiders 21-16 with less than five minutes to play.
With the ball on the Raider 49-yard line, Rod Smith got behind the Raider secondary, and John Elway hit him in stride. Broncos 22, Raiders 21.
Once again, the Broncos had come back to beat the Raiders in their own backyard.
3. The Opening Day Shootout
#7 QB John Elway
Ned Bonzi/Getty Images
September 7, 1986—Denver 38, Los Angeles 36
On opening day of the 86-87 NFL season the Broncos opened at home against the hated Raiders.
What ensued was one of the great opening day games in NFL history.
Raiders quarterback Marc Wilson threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Marcus Allen ran for 102 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for an additional 102 yards.
But it would be a losing cause, as John Elway threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns as well as catching a 23 yard pass from running back Steve Sewell.
Trailing 36-31 John Elway hit Bronco running back Gene Lang with a 7-yard pass over the middle to give the Broncos the lead.
However, there were nearly ten minutes remaining in the game. The Broncos defense finally rose to the occasion stopping the Raiders twice and preserving the win for Denver.
2. The Orange Crush
Broncos DB #20 Louis Wright
October 16, 1977—Denver 30, Oakland 7
This game will always be remembered for the fake field goal and touchdown pass that was thrown to veteran Bronco kicker Jim Turner.
But the true story of this game was the stingy Bronco defense. Dubbed the Orange Crush, the stellar unit intercepted Raider quarterback Ken Stabler seven times. They held the defending Super Bowl champions to only 87 yards rushing.
Following an early touchdown pass from Stabler to tight end Dave Casper in the first quarter, the Raiders would not score again as the Broncos crushed the Raiders in Oakland.
The 1977 season was a miracle season in Denver. And the game in Oakland helped to start it all.
1. The 1977 AFC Championship
#25 WR Haven Moses
January 1, 1978—Denver 20, Oakland 17
This was the big one. The Broncos were playing in their first postseason. The Raiders were coming off of winning the previous year's Super Bowl.
They had split the two regular season meetings with the Broncos winning at Oakland and the Raiders winning in Denver. The winner of this game at Mile High Stadium would head to New Orleans for Super Bowl XII.
Oakland would score the game's first points but Bronco quarterback Craig Morton would hit wide receiver Haven Moses for a 74-yard touchdown to answer.
The Raiders would battle back but could never overtake the Bronco lead.
Moses would finish the game with five catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns.
The Broncos won the game 20-17 and in the aftermath the Mile High crowd would storm the field to celebrate with the players.
The Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl, in what is, without a doubt, the sweetest victory over the Raiders in franchise history.