Friday, September 11, 2009

Football History 101: Bengals-Broncos Top 5 Games Ever

Will Sunday's Bengals-Broncos game be a classic? Probably not. No game involving Kyle Orton ever is.

However, these two franchises have had several sweet battles in the past. In honor of Sunday's opener, INSIC has decided to look at the top 5 games in Bengals-Broncos history.

If you're lucky, you can use this knowledge on Sunday to get laid.

If you're not lucky, you'll probably use this knowledge to relive the time in 2006 when you didn't celebrate Christmas because Brad St. Louis did the long snapper's equivalent of a Scott Norwood in the Bengals 24-23 loss to the Broncos.

Fun Fact that can be used to outsmart drunk know-it-alls: The Bengals and Broncos were actually division rivals in 1968 and '69. During Cincinnati's first two season's in the league, they played in the AFL's West Division with Oakland, Kansas City, San Diego, and Denver.

All-time series: Broncos lead 16-8*

*=will be 16-9 after Sunday

Let's start the countdown:

5. Sept. 2, 1984, at Denver

The 2009 season won't be the first time these two teams have met in the opener. In 1984, expectations were high for both squads.

The Broncos were coming off their first playoff appearance in three years, while the Bengals were in the midst of a run that saw them get to the playoffs in two of the previous three seasons.

In his first game as Bengals head coach, Sam Wyche watched his team lose on a fourth-quarter touchdown pass—only second-year Broncos quarterback John Elway didn't throw it.

Gary "Nobody has ever heard of me" Kubiak, playing in one of only two games he started on the season, hit tight end Clarence Kay with an eight-yard strike that gave his team the lead late in the game.

The game was filled with errors. Broncos kicker Rich Karlis missed his first extra point attempt on the day. Bengals kicker Jim Breech uncharacteristically missed two field goals (he made a 46-yarder), and Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson threw a pick that set up Denver's second touchdown.

The Bengals would finish the 1984 season at 8-8 and one game out of the playoffs, while the Broncos would take the AFC West with a 13-3 record.

Result: Denver 20, Cincinnati 17

4. Oct. 25, 2004, at Cincinnati

This game was big for one reason and one reason only: the return of Monday Night Football to Cincinnati. After a 15-year absence (MNF's last visit to Cincinnati had been on Sept. 25, 1989) the Bengals returned with a vengeance.

Cincinnati was 1-4 going into the game, and ABC may have regretted bringing prime-time football back to the Queen City.

However, a 50-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to Chad Johnson resulted in the first score of the game and the Bengals never looked back.

Result: Cincinnati 23, Denver 10

3. Sept. 15, 1968, at Cincinnati

This game could arguably be No. 1, considering its historical significance for the Bengals franchise. The 24-10 win over Denver represented both the Bengals' first home game ever and the first win in team history.

Bengals quarterback John Stofa threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns on the day. Stofa's TD passes were both long bombs. The first one was a 58-yarder to Bengals great Bob Trumpy, the second one a 54-yard beauty to Warren McVea.

Stofa only started seven games in his Bengals career, with this win over Denver undoubtedly being the highlight. McVea would end his lone season in Cincinnati with a mere two touchdown catches.

Result: Cincinnati 24, Denver 10

2. Dec. 24, 2006, at Denver

The very thought of this game makes most Bengals fans want to bathe in used cat litter. After Denver took a 24-17 lead late in the game on a Jason Elam field goal, it was up to Carson Palmer and the Bengals offense to prove that they were not only fun to watch, but clutch as well.

Palmer did his part, running a perfect two-minute drill in the fourth quarter. He then capped the remarkable drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh, which tied the game at 24...

Hold on—no it didn't. The Bengals still had to make the extra point. After a low Brad St. Louis snap was bobbled by Kyle Larson in the cold Denver snow, kicker Shayne Graham never got a chance to put his right foot on the ball.

Overtime averted, Broncos win, and Bengals fans spend Christmas Eve drinking egg nog laced Captain Morgan and cursing Santa Claus.

Result: Denver 24, Cincinnati 23

1. Oct. 22, 2000, at Cincinnati

On paper, this game had all the makings of a blowout. The lowly Bengals came into the game 0-6, having already been shut out twice in the season's first six weeks.

Denver, on the other hand, came into the game 4-3 and on its way to claiming an AFC Wildcard at 11-5. The wildcard slot would have been a division title if the Broncos had won this game.

However, with the Broncos' defensive front seven seemingly on a mental vacation, Bengals running back Corey Dillon exploded for a then-NFL record 278 rushing yards.

As the Bengals averaged a dismal 6.2 points in their first six games, nobody in the world could have seen this coming. Dillon scored on runs of 65 and 41 yards while averaging an unimaginable 12.6 yards per carry.

To put into perspective how bad this Bengals team was, this would be the first and only time all season Cincinnati scored more than 30 points. The offense would finish the season ranked 30th (out of 31) in the NFL.

Result: Cincinnati 31, Denver 21

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