Broncos vs. Raiders: 10 Best Denver Moments in Rivalry History
Over the years, the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders have established an intense and storied rivalry. The series has swung to and fro like a pendulum, with the Raiders dominating many of the contests of the 60s, 70s and early 80s. Then, throughout the Shanahan years, the Broncos had the upper hand. Now, the Raiders have once again regained control of the rivalry, as evidenced by a 59-14 drubbing last October.
Headed into the Oakland Coliseum this Sunday, the Broncos have another opportunity to add to the lore of this historic matchup. As Tim Tebow is already 0-1 as a starter against Oakland, losing late last season, and the Raiders have already bested the Broncos once this year, on Monday night of the season opener, Denver will be looking to get back in the win column against the Raiders.
Still, whether in victory or defeat, this heated rivalry has produced some of the most memorable performances in Broncos history. The following slides recount the 10 most memorable Denver moments in the history of the Broncos-Raiders rivalry.
No. 10: Sept 12, 2011–Eric Decker 90 Yd Punt Ret TD
The 2011 season opener ultimately saw the Broncos fall to the Raiders at home, 23-20. However, there was one bright spot which gave Broncos a chance at a come-from-behind upset: a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown by second-year wideout Eric Decker.
After the Broncos offense had been mostly inefficient all game, the team was looking for a spark, and got it from special teams. Decker fielded an Oakland punt early in the second half and took the ball 90 yards to the house in order to give the Broncos a chance to get back into the game.
Ultimately, it proved to not be enough, but it was an incredible individual effort, and an incredible play for the Denver Broncos.
No. 9: Jan 2, 1994–The Brawl
While it certainly wasn't the only time these teams have come to blows on the field, what occurred late in the 1993 season might have been the largest scrum the rivalry has seen.
Certainly, it didn't help Denver to win the contest, as the Broncos would go on to ultimately lose this game, 33-30, but this moment may be emblematic of the love lost between these two franchises. With an apparent late hit on Raiders quarterback Jeff Hostetler, multiple fights broke out on the field simultaneously. It wasn't pretty, but it was certainly enlightening to just how palpable the dislike is between these clubs.
No. 8: Jan 2, 1994–Elway Most Passing Yards
For that same game in 1994, late in the 1993 season, John Elway would set a mark for the most passing yards in any game in the history of the Broncos-Raiders rivalry. Throwing for 361 yards on the day, Elway would add three touchdown passes, one a 54-yard bomb to Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe.
Unfortunately, it would not be enough, as the Raiders would eventually win in overtime, 33-30. To rub salt in the wounds, the Raiders would then oust the Broncos from the playoffs the very next week in the AFC Wild Card game.
Still, despite the loss, it was a record day for the Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback.
No. 7: Sept 7, 2008–Royal Coming out Party
Now that we have the individual moments that occurred during Broncos losses out of the way, the following moments come exclusively from Broncos victories.
One, the 2008 season opener played on Monday night—as so many of the Broncos-Raiders games have been—saw the emergence of one Eddie Royal, and the Broncos strong-arming the Raiders, 41-14, in front of a national audience.
From the very first drive, which culminated in a 26-yard touchdown pass to Royal from quarterback Jay Cutler, the Broncos never looked back. Royal would finish the game with 146 yards receiving, one touchdown and would add 30 return yards to boot.
No. 6: Nov 4, 1996–Comeback on the Road
After pulling a similar stunt the year before, the Broncos went into Oakland and pulled victory from the jaws of defeat on yet another Monday night matchup.
After the Raiders scored 14 straight points to take the lead with just five minutes remaining in the game, John Elway and the Broncos' offense responded with a six-play, 73-yard drive that culminated in a Rod Smith 26-yard touchdown pass. In all, the counter punch took 0:47 and put the Broncos up 22-21.
With four and a half minutes left to play, it was up to the Denver defense to shut the door, which they did in convincing fashion.
No. 5: Dec 24, 1995–Christmas Eve Comeback
On Christmas Eve of 1995, all hope seemed lost. On the road against Oakland, the Broncos trailed 28-17 entering the fourth quarter.
The Broncos converted their first drive of the final quarter into a 26-yard Jason Elam field goal. The defense held, and returned the ball to the Broncos offense. John Elway then went to work carving up the Raiders defense, moving 86 yards in 13 plays.
Nearly six minutes later, Elway finished the drive with a four-yard touchdown pass to Ed McCaffrey. Perhaps the key play was the successful two-point conversion, an Elway quarterback keeper to the right side to tie the game.
The defense once again came up big, forcing a fumble with under four minutes remaining to give the ball back to the Broncos' offense. Elway wasted no time marching down to the Oakland 19-yard line, where Elam kicked the game-winning field goal with just 48 seconds left on the clock. The Broncos defense would hold on to complete the improbable fourth-quarter comeback.
No. 4: 1977 AFC Championship–Haven Moses
In the 1970s, the Raiders were an imposing, dominating force and the Broncos were accustomed to playing second fiddle. That all changed in 1977, when the Broncos met the Raiders in the AFC championship game.
Although heavy underdogs, the Broncos set the tone early when quarterback Craig Morton hit Haven Moses for a 74-yard touchdown to give the Broncos a lead they would never relinquish.
Despite Oakland quarterback Ken Stabler's valiant attempt to rally against the Orange Crush defense, Morton would add another 12-yard touchdown to Moses in the fourth quarter to seal the victory and send the Broncos to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance.
No. 3: Sept 16, 2007–Shanahan's Timeout
In 2007, the Raiders were attempting to turn the tables on Mike Shanahan's Broncos with a comeback of their own. After rallying with 17 points in the fourth quarter, the Raiders forced overtime. The Broncos won the coin toss, but were unable to sustain a drive, giving the ball back to Oakland.
Once in field goal range, kicker Sebastian Janikowski hit what appeared to be the game-winning 52-yard field goal. However, the officials indicated that Shanahan had called timeout just before the ball had been snapped, and it was granted. Janikowski's second attempt hit the left upright, and the Broncos took over at their own 42-yard line.
Just over five minutes later, Jay Cutler had moved the Broncos to the Raiders 6-yard line, where Jason Elam promptly kicked a 23-yard field goal to win the game, 23-20.
No. 2: 1977 Week 5–Kicker Jim Turner's TD
Early on in the 1977 season, the Denver Broncos were attempting to pull themselves out of the shadow of the Oakland Raiders, and they used one of the trickier plays in their history to do so.
With kicker Jim Turner on to attempt a predictable field goal, the Broncos faked it instead, and holder Norris Weese threw the ball to a wide-open Turner for a 25-yard touchdown pass. The Raiders were in shock, and remained so for the rest of the game as the Broncos went on to rout them, 30-7.
No. 1: Nov 24, 1997–Monday Night Showcase
After an early exit from the playoffs the season before, the Denver Broncos were looking to display their true potential in front of yet another national Monday Night Football audience. On a November night against the Oakland Raiders, they did just that.
The Broncos entered the game three-point home underdogs, but by the time it was all over, and the final score stood 31-3 in the Broncos favor, there was no doubt that this team would not be stopped.
Running back Terrell Davis gained 115 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns en route to an NFL MVP season. For good measure, John Elway added a touchdown pass to Rod Smith and Shannon Sharpe pulled down 10 balls for 142 yards receiving. It was a night where everything went perfectly according to plan, and the opportunistic Broncos annihilated the Raiders.
As the Broncos head into Oakland this Sunday, perhaps they can channel some of the magic from moments in this rivalry's past and find a way to get back on the winning side of it.