Since buying the Broncos in 1984, Pat Bowlen oversaw a team that brought many great memories to Broncos Country. In fact, he was in charge during some of the most-important moments in NFL history.
So as we celebrate the greatest owner in professional sports, let’s break down the greatest games in Broncos history under Mr. B.
5. Peyton Manning’s seven TD passes
Right after the Broncos were eliminated in the playoffs in January of 2013 by the Ravens, Denver couldn’t wait to get back onto the field the following season. Many people believe the 2012 Broncos team was the best and most complete team during the Peyton Manning era and were ready to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1999. After the Broncos were heartbroken by Joe Flacco and Jacoby Jones, however, Manning and this offense was on a mission for revenge.
Players have told stories that offensive coordinator Adam Gase was game planning for the Ravens way before the final preseason game because he was ready to embarrass the defending Super Bowl champions. Many people have forgotten that the Broncos didn’t score in the first quarter. In the second, however, Manning began his magic and threw the first of his seven touchdown passes.
On the night, Manning would connect with Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas for two touchdowns a piece, and Andre Caldwell for another. Manning would tie the record for the most touchdown passes in a single game in NFL history and that game would lead to Manning having the greatest offensive season any quarterback has ever had and add another MVP to his name.
4. Tim Tebow beats the Steelers
Every person that was at this game can remember that exact feeling when Demaryius Thomas was running down the sideline into the south end zone. The Broncos were already having the craziest season maybe ever in franchise history, with the way they were winning games with Tim Tebow behind center.
After winning the AFC West with a 8-8 record, Denver would host Pittsburgh, who had the No. 1 ranked defense in the NFL. Nobody gave the Broncos a chance to win this game, but Tebow’s left arm gave Denver a shot. Tebow would have the best game of his career, throwing for 316 yards, two touchdown passes and a 125.6 quarterback rating.
After the Broncos’ defense stopped Ben Roethlisberger on the Steelers final drive in the fourth quarter, we would be going into overtime with the new overtime rules that nobody could seemingly understand. (I understood them perfectly.) It was simple: Score a touchdown and the game is over.
The Broncos did just that. With Tebow getting the snap, faking a handoff to Willis McGahee and firing a dart across the middle to Thomas at the 37-yard line, Thomas would then stiff arm Ike Taylor at the 45, and outrun the entire black-and-yellow secondary to the end zone, disappearing into the tunnel for the win.
That stadium has never sounded so loud in all of the years that it has been standing. Any fan that was at that game knows what I’m talking about. This game might not rank in the top five games under Pat Bowlen, but possibly a top five NFL game ever.
3. Super Bowl 50
The final Super Bowl win under Pat Bowlen was a special one. When Bowlen hired Elway into the front office, he said that he hoped Elway would say, “This one’s for Pat.”
After four years of falling just short under head coach John Fox, Elway went ahead and hired Gary Kubiak, who bled orange and blue. Kubiak was part of the first two Super Bowl wins for the Broncos and was there from the get-go under Mr. B. The Broncos got the band back together for one final ride.
With the help of a Hall of Fame quarterback managing the perfect game on offense and the power of one of the greatest defenses of all-time, Von Miller would lead the Broncos to a 24-10 victory over the Panthers. With Bowlen unable to be in Santa Clara to watch the gold confetti fall down on him, Elway made sure to make it feel like he was there.
When holding that Lombardi Trophy up high, the circumstances came in full circle and Elway made sure to say, “This one’s for Pat!”
2. The Drive
Every Broncos fan will talk about this game for the rest of their life. Every Broncos fan will remember the image of Bowlen during this game because he was on the sideline wearing the legendary fur coat.
This would be one of the most memorable games in NFL history because the comeback king in Elway would add another comeback to his resume, going 98-and-a-half yards to force overtime on the muddy field in Cleveland, Ohio during the AFC Championship Game. The Broncos would win the game and Elway would break the hearts of Browns fans everywhere. This win gave the Broncos their first Super Bowl appearance under the ownership of Bowlen.
1. Super Bowl XXXII
The greatest and most memorable game under Pat Bowlen’s ownership came on January 25, 1998, in San Diego, when the Broncos defeated the Packers 31-24. After three previous Super Bowl losses for Bowlen, the future Hall of Famer found the correct equation on how to win a Super Bowl.
With the Broncos being heavy underdogs going into the game, this team didn’t back down. Elway didn’t have his best game, but he let his future Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis led the way, rushing for 157 yards and scoring three touchdowns. Davis would put on one of the greatest Super Bowl performances ever, but everyone would remember the postgame celebrations.
Bowlen finally did it. He put together a Super Bowl winning franchise. We will always remember Mr. B standing on the sideline wearing that fur coat during “The Drive,” helping out in the community, but every Broncos fan will remember when he held that Lombardi Trophy up in the air and say the four words that we will never forget in Denver: “This one’s for John.”