John Elway will always be remembered as one of the most clutch quarterbacks to ever play the game of football. Denver fans loved him. And just about every other team couldn’t stand playing against someone who would eventually become known as the greatest comeback QB of all time.
Throughout his 16-year career, the two-time Super Bowl champion put together 46 game-winning drives, including 35 fourth-quarter comebacks!
Here are some of his greatest come from behind moments to lead the Broncos to victory.
1. Broncos vs. Colts – December 11, 1983
In his first season as starting quarterback in 1983, Elway started to show signs that he has ice in veins, especially with the game on the line. Denver trailed the Baltimore Colts 19-0 going into the last quarter of play.
Elway threw three fourth-quarter touchdowns to lead to the Broncos all the way back for a 21-19 win. The Broncos finished 9-7 that year, but they would soon become one of the elite teams in the AFC.
2. The Drive – January 11, 1987
The Denver Broncos looked like their Super Bowl dreams were coming to an end in the 1987 AFC Championship game against the Cleveland Browns. Trailing 20-13 with just over five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Broncos has the ball on their own two yard line and had to drive 98 yards to tie the game.
Elway marched down the field on the Browns defense in 15 plays and his five-yard TD pass to Mark Jackson tied the game with 37 seconds left. The offense never faced a fourth down on the final drive and the Brown defense couldn’t make a stop to seal the win in front of their home crowd. The AFC Championship would be decided in overtime when Denver won on a field goal 23-20.
3. The Drive II – January 4, 1992
Teams should have known after the first “Drive” that even though Elway and the Broncos were pinned to their two-yard line, you couldn’t count him out.
The Houston Oilers and Broncos squared off at Mile High for an AFC Divisional round matchup. Going into the fourth quarter the Broncos trailed 24-16, but Elway would settle in and help the team rally back.
The offense got the ball back with 2:07 left in fourth quarter at their own 2-year line trailed 24-23. Unlike the first drive, Elway had to overcome two fourth downs to keep Denver’s hopes alive. He converted the first on a 7-yard run and the second on a 44-yard pass to Vance Johnson.
David Treadwell would then drill home a 28-yard field goal with 16 seconds left to give the Broncos a 26-24 victory.
4. Chiefs vs. Broncos – January 4, 1998, AFC Divisional Game
The Denver Broncos entered their 1998 AFC Divisional matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs as underdogs. The AFC’s top seed led the Broncos 10-7 going into the fourth quarter, but Elway was not going to allow his team to be eliminated. A 43-yard pass to wide receiver Ed McCaffrey brought the Broncos down to the Chiefs one-yard line in the final quarter. Running back Terrell Davis would put Denver ahead following a one-yard touchdown run.
The Chiefs had one last chance to try to have their own comeback, but the Broncos defense was able to stop a fake field goal attempt, sealing Denver’s ticket to the AFC Championship game. Elway finished the game 10-19 with 170 yards and no touchdowns, but his fourth quarter drive was enough to clinch the win.
5. Broncos vs. Steelers – January 7, 1990, AFC Divisional Game
Elway was constantly chasing the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 1990 AFC Divisional round matchup. Elway had to lead Denver back from not one, but two 10 point deficits in the game.
Trailing 23-17 in the fourth quarter, Elway orchestrated a nine play 71 yard drive to give the Broncos a 24-23 lead. Elway had two huge completions to Mark Jackson for 36 yards and Ricky Nattiel for 15 before Melvin Bratton one yard touchdown run. Denver would lock up the win when safety Randy Robbins recovered a fumble at the end of the game following a low snap that Steelers quarterback Bubby Brister couldn’t handle.
6. Broncos vs. Chiefs – October, 4 1992
Elway has had the last laugh several times against the Kansas City Chiefs in his career. One of his finest moments came in a regular season matchup in 1992 when the Broncos trailed the Chiefs 19-6 with under two minutes to go. Elway started to pick his way through the Kansas City secondary and eventually connected with Mark Jackson on a 25-yard touchdown pass.
The Broncos defense would hold the Chiefs offense and got Denver the ball back with under a minute left. Following a punt return to the Chiefs 27-yard line, Elway would lead the Broncos to a go-ahead touchdown when he hooked up with Vance Johnson for a 12-yard touchdown. The Broncos would hang on and steal a 20-19 win over their division rival.
7. Broncos vs Washington – September 17, 1995
We’ve all seen NBA buzzer-beaters, but Elway gave football fans a little taste of winning at the final whistle early in the 1995 season. The Broncos faced off against Washington in a regular season matchup. It looked like overtime was on the horizon with both teams tied 31-31, but when you have one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the game anything is possible.
Elway gears up for a deep throw to give his team a first down after being pinned back to his own two yard line.