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John Elway, Master of the Comeback
Elway's Fourth Quarter Magic


John Elway led the Broncos to 47 4th Quarter Comebacks

1984
Dec. 9: Denver 22, New England 19 -- 78 yards; 8 plays;
5 pass to Butch Johnson (10:57), tied score 19-19.

Nov. 11: Denver 16, San Diego 13 -- 77 yards; 10 plays;
Sammy Winder 1 run (14:22).

Dec. 9: Denver 16, San Diego 13 -- 40 yards; 12 plays;
Rich Karlis 28-yard field goal (12:52).

1985
Sept 22:
Denver 34, Atlanta 28 -- 67 yards; 4 plays;
Gene Lang 2 run (1:28).

Nov. 11: Denver 17, San Francisco 16 -- 63 yards; 9 plays;
Rich Karlis 24-yard field goal (13:33).

Nov. 17: Denver 30, San Diego 24, OT -- 48 yards; 7 plays;
Rich Karlis 34-yard field goal (14:55) tied score 24-24. Louis Wright's 60-yard blocked kick return won game in OT.

Dec. 1: Denver 31, Pittsburgh 23 -- 58 yards; 7 plays;
Steve Sewell 2 run (13:15), put Broncos up 24-23.

Dec. 14: Denver 14, Kansas City 13 -- 59 yards; 8 plays;
Sammy Winder 1 run (14:38).

Dec. 20: Denver 27, Seattle 24 -- 34 yards; 5 plays;
Rich Karlis 43-yard field goal (14:05).

1986
Sept 7:
Denver 38, L.A. Raiders 36 -- 39 yards; 6 plays;
7 pass to Gene Lang (10:00).

THE DRIVE
Jan. 1: Denver 23, Cleveland 20 OT, Championship -- 98 yards; 15 plays;
5 pass to Mark Jackson (14:23). Karlis 33-yard field goal won game in OT.

1987
Sept 20:
Denver 17, Green Bay 17 2OT -- 80 yards; 18 plays;
Steve Sewell 2 run (9:07).

Nov. 16: Denver 31, Chicago 29 -- 61 yards; 8 plays;
Steve Sewell 4 run (10:02).

Dec. 6: Denver 31, New England 20 -- 74 yards; 6 plays;
2 pass to Mark Jackson (2:19) put Broncos ahead 24-20.

Jan. 17: Denver 38, Cleveland 33, Championship -- 75 yards; 5 plays;
20 pass to Sammy Winder (10:59).

1988
Oct. 9: Denver 16, San Francisco 13, OT -- 58 yards; 9 plays;
8 pass to Vance Johnson (8:37), tied score 13-13. Karlis 22-yard field goal won game in OT.

1989
Oct. 8: Denver 16, San Diego 10, OT -- 74 yards; 11 plays;
Bobby Humphrey 17 run (13:57).

Oct. 22: Denver 24, Seattle 21, OT -- 54 yards; 1 play;
54 pass to Vance Johnson (12:41), tied score 21-21. Treadwell 27-yard field goal won game in OT.

Nov. 12: Denver 16, Kansas City 13 -- 71 yards; 10 plays;
David Treadwell 42-yard field goal (14:59).

Jan. 17: Denver 24, Pittsburgh 23, Divisional Playoffs -- 71 yards; 9 plays;
Melvin Bratton 1 run (12:33).

1990
Sept. 17: Denver 24 Kansas City 23 -- 79 yards; 10 plays;
David Treadwell 22-yard field goal (12:23).

Oct. 21: Denver 27 Indianapolis 17 -- 58 yards; 9 plays;
David Treadwell 42-yard field goal (11:15) put Broncos ahead 20-17.

1991
Oct. 20: Denver 19 Kansas City 16 -- 70 yards; 7 plays;
David Treadwell 27-yard field goal (12:23).

Oct. 27: Denver 9 New England 6 -- 42 yards; 9 plays;
David Treadwell 34-yard field goal (13:04).

Dec. 8: Denver 17 Cleveland 7 -- 64 yards; 16 plays;
6 pass to Vance Johnson (6:06), put Broncos ahead14-7.

Dec. 15: Denver 24 Phoenix 19 -- 66 yards; 6 plays;
Elway 4 run (13:14).

Jan. 4: Denver 26 Houston 24, Divisional Playoffs -- 87 yards; 12 plays;
David Treadwell 28-yard field goal (14:44).

1992
Sept. 6: Denver 17 L.A. Raiders 13 -- 85 yards; 7 plays;
Reggie Rivers 1 run (12:23).

Oct. 4: Denver 20 Kansas City 19 -- 27 yards; 3 plays;
12 pass to Vance Johnson (14:22).

Oct. 18: Denver 27 Houston 21 -- 80 yards; 3 plays;
Reggie Rivers 20 run (13:26).

1993
Dec. 12: Denver 27 Kansas City 21 -- 11 yards; 3 plays;
6 pass to Shannon Sharpe (1:24).

1994
Oct. 23: Denver 20 San Diego 15 -- 4 yards; 4 plays;
Elam 54-yard field goal(4:58), put Broncos ahead 17-15.

Nov. 20: Denver 32 Atlanta 28 -- 37 yards; 10 plays;
Elway 4 run (13:04).

1995
Sept. 17: Denver 38 Washington 31 -- 80 yards; 8 plays;
43 pass to Rod Smith (15:00).

Nov. 19: Denver 30 San Deigo 27 -- 53 yards; 7 plays;
Elam 32-yard field goal (11:17).

Dec. 24: Denver 31 Oakland 28 -- 53 yards; 9 plays;
Elam 37-yard field goal (14:12).

1996
Sept. 15: Denver 27 Tampa Bay 23 -- 80 yards; 14 plays;
Terrell Davis 3 run (11:28).

Nov. 4: Denver 22 Oakland 21 -- 73 yards; 6 plays;
49 pass to Rod Smith (10:46).

Nov. 24: Denver 21 Minnesota 17 -- 84 yards; 11 plays;
5 pass to Ed McCaffery (14:12).

1997
Oct. 26: Denver 23 Buffalo 20, OT -- 43 yards; 9 plays;
Elam 33-yard field goal(13:04, OT).

Nov. 2: Denver 30 Seattle 27 -- 69 yards; 8 plays;
Elam 22-yard field goal (7:32).

Jan. 4: Denver 14 Kansas City 10, Divisional Playoffs -- 49 yards; 6 plays;
Davis 1 run (2:28).

Jan. 25: Denver 31 Green Bay 24, Super Bowl -- 49 yards; 5 plays;
Terrell Davis 1 run (13:15).

1998
Nov. 1: Denver 33 Cincinnati 26 -- 53 yards; 5 plays;
Terrell Davis 5 run(14:02).

Dec. 6: Denver 35 Kansas City 31 -- 50 yards; 5 plays;
24 pass to Shannon Sharpe (11:26).

John Elway's Favorite Fourth-Quarter Comebacks
5. Denver 38, Washington 31: Sept. 17, 1995 -- We beat Washington on the last play of the game on a touchdown catch by Rod Smith. It was Rod's first NFL touchdown -- and it was his first career reception, period! He has really become one of the best, if not the best, receivers in the NFL since then.
4. Denver 21, Baltimore 19: Dec. 11, 1983 -- There were some harsh feelings my rookie year because of the situation in which the Colts had drafted me and then traded me. We played the Colts twice that season. The first meeting was in Baltimore -- we won that game, but I didn't feel real welcome. So to have them come back to Denver and beat them after being down 19-0 was real gratifying.
3. Denver 20, Kansas City 19: Oct. 4, 1992 -- We scored two touchdowns against the Chiefs with two minutes to go. We were down 19-6 and scored to make it 19-13, got the ball back and scored the game-winning TD with 38 seconds left.
2. Denver 26, Houston 24: 1991 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, Jan. 4, 1992 -- We didn't go 98 yards, but it was still a big victory. Converted two fourth downs in a 78-yard drive that set up the game-winning field goal with 20 seconds left.
1. Denver 23, Cleveland 20: 1986 AFC Championship Game, Jan. 11, 1987 -- We went 98 yards and tied the game with 37 seconds left, then won it in overtime. The greatest thing about "The Drive" was that it kind of legitimized me as a player. It was my fourth year in the league, and to be able to do it in that type of game, on the road, it was kind of like my coming-out party. A springboard to the rest of my career.
Magnificent Seven
A Countdown of Elway's Greatest Comeback Drives
- 7 -
JANUARY 7, 1990
AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF, MILE HIGH STADIUM
DENVER 24, PITTSBURGH 23
Running back Melvin Bratton rumbles in from the one with 2:27 left for the game-winning score after Elway completes two of three passes for 54 yards on a 71-yard, nine-play drive that is highlighted by a 36-yard flea-flicker to wideout Vance Johnson. The victory puts the Broncos into the AFC Championship Game for the third time in four years.
- 6 -
SEPTEMBER 17, 1990
MILE HIGH STADIUM
DENVER 24, KANSAS CITY 23
With a nation watching on Monday night, the Chiefs score late to take a 23-21 lead and pin the Broncos back at their own 17-yard line with just 1:44 left. Elway enters the drive with 10 straight incompletions, but on fourth-and-10 from the 17, he hits Johnson on a 49-yard bomb, setting up a 22-yard field goal by David Treadwell with no time left on the clock.
- 5 -
DECEMBER 24, 1995
OAKLAND COLISEUM, OAKLAND
DENVER 31, OAKLAND 28
Denver trails 28-17 early in the fourth when Elway decides it's time to just win, baby. The Broncos roll up 219 total yards in three fourth-quarter scoring drives, including a two-point conversion run to tie the game at 28-28 with 5:46 to go. On Denver's last possession, the Broncos gain 53 yards on nine plays to set up Jason Elam's 37-yard game-winning field goal with 48 seconds left.
- 4 -
JANUARY 25, 1998
SUPER BOWL XXXII, QUALCOMM STADIUM, SAN DIEGO
DENVER 31, GREEN BAY 24
Late in the fourth quarter with the score 24-24, Elway and the Broncos take possession at the Green Bay 49-yard line. A 23-yard swing pass to Howard Griffith puts the Broncos inside the 10 with less than two minutes remaining. Two plays later, Terrell Davis's one-yard touchdown run caps the drive, and the Broncos hold on to win their first Super Bowl title.
- 3 -
JANUARY 4, 1992
AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF, MILE HIGH STADIUM
DENVER 26 HOUSTON 24
The Drive II. Recalls Elway, "I remember running onto the field and thinking, Well, we're going to see if the first one was a fluke or not." Down 24-23 with 2:07 to go and no timeouts left, Denver starts 98 yards from pay dirt. Sound familiar? Elway converts two fourth downs during an 87-yard, 12-play drive, including a 44-yard pass to Johnson. With 20 seconds left, Treadwell kicks a 28-yard field goal for the win.
- 2 -
OCTOBER 4, 1992
MILE HIGH STADIUM
DENVER 20, KANSAS CITY 19
The division-rival Chiefs hold a 19-6 lead with less than five minutes remaining and have the Broncos buried at their own 20. Elway first cuts the lead to 19-13 with 1:55 to go on a 14-play, 80-yard drive. After Denver holds and returns a punt to the 27-yard line, Elway floats one to Johnson in the corner of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown with 38 seconds left.
- 1 -
JANUARY 11, 1987
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, CLEVELAND STADIUM
DENVER 23, CLEVELAND 20
The apotheosis of Elway comebacks. "It was my coming-out party," says Elway of the drive ever after called "the Drive." With Denver trailing 20-13 and backed up to its own two, Elway paints a 98-yard, 15-play masterpiece. His five-yard touchdown pass to Mark Jackson with 39 seconds remaining sends the game into overtime, in which kicker Rich Karlis boots the Broncos into their first Super Bowl in nearly a decade.