Some of the most interesting things in Denver Broncos history have happened against the Chargers, and while all these facts are readily available and thus no new information is presented here, I do think it is notable to consider a few things that have happened over the previous 47 years of play.
Tobin Rote was the Chargers quarterback when they began in 1960, in Los Angleles, and he actually ended his great career as a part-time player for the Broncos.
The only time Denver has ever scored 50 points in a game in franchise history was in 1962 against the Chargers. John McCormick was the quarterback and Gene Mingo kicked five field goals for the Broncos in that game.
And in spite of having some of the league’s greatest offensive teams in the John Elway years, the Broncos have never again scored 50 points in a game.
Of the 17 shutouts the Broncos have ever posted in a Bronco win, a franchise high six have come against the Chargers.
And of the nine times when the Broncos have failed to score in a game, three of those have been recorded by the Chargers, also a Denver high.
So the Chargers have been involved in nine of the 26 total Bronco shutout games. Just an oddity.
On November 17, 1985, the two teams combined at Mile High Stadium for one of the greatest games in Bronco history, with Denver taking a 30-24 overtime win in the only NFL game ever played in which both the first and last touches of the football resulted in touchdowns.
Gary Anderson of San Diego returned the opening kickoff for the game’s first points, and then in overtime the Chargers lined up for the winning field goal, but Denver captain Mike Harden called time just a split second before the ball was snapped, negating a blocked field goal by Dennis Smith.
The Chargers lined up to kick it again, and Smith said he thought he could block it again — we all know the odds against the same player blocking two field goal attempts, in this case the same kick twice — are astronomical.
Nevertheless, Smith blocked it again, and it took one bounce right into the hands of Louis Wright, who headed for the end zone with a full head of steam, ending the game.
Since it was overtime, there was no extra point, so the first and last time anyone touched the ball, a touchdown was scored. Still a one and only happening.
The Broncos finished the season in 1987 with a home shutout over San Diego, 24-0, capping off a regular season which eventually propelled the Broncos to their second straight Super Bowl.
But there had been a tremendous snowstorm in Denver the day before, the game time temperature hovered at 20 degrees and declined from there, and only 37,000 fans were able to get out of their homes and get to the game, producing one of the lowest attendance figures in Mile High Stadium history.
It’s all just part of history as these original American Football League rivals get ready to tee it up once again.