This week the Denver Broncos host the Pittsburgh Steelers in week three of preseason play, a Sunday night telecast sure to generate nice national interest via FOX.
The Broncos have an interesting history with the Pittsburgh franchise, and here are a few “franchise firsts” on the series.
After the AFL-NFL merger, the Steelers played the first game of the regular season in Denver in 1970 — of course, Pittsburgh was beginning its new life as an AFC team that year.
The Broncos won the first four games in this series — the Steelers becoming the first NFL (or former NFL) team to be defeated in the first four meetings with Denver.
In the offseason preceding the 1974 campaign, the NFL changed the rule about tie games, establishing overtime as a part of NFL games — and naturally, the first overtime game ever played in pro football’s regular season came in Denver, a classic battle that resulted in a 35-35 tie at the end of overtime, Broncos-Steelers at Mile High Stadium on September 22, 1974.
When the Broncos finally made the playoffs for the first time, the first opponent Denver ever faced in postseason was that great Pittsburgh team quarterbacked by Terry Bradshaw. Linebacker Tom Jackson intercepted Bradshaw twice as the Broncos recorded the first playoff win in Denver history on Christmas Eve, 1977 by a 34-21 margin. In my book, “Game of My Life-Denver Broncos,” Tom Jackson chose that game, the Broncos’ first playoff win, as his most personally significant performance.
On the way to the Broncos’ first Super Bowl victory in 1997, the road to the AFC title went through Pittsburgh, and Denver won at Three Rivers Stadium despite having lost in the same stadium just one month before. When the Broncos won that game, the best team won, as Denver showed the world two weeks later in defeating Green Bay for our first Super Bowl championship.
The only time the Broncos have ever lost an AFC title game at home it was to the Steelers in 2006, and they went on to win the world title.
The Broncos have faced Pittsburgh more times in postseason play than any other franchise. Denver and Pittsburgh have faced each other six times, three wins for each team.
The series stands at 13 wins and seven losses for the Broncos, with one tie in the regular season and three wins each in the postseason.
This week’s game marks the first ever for the two proud franchises in preseason play, and it does not count, but let’s see if it produces any “firsts” at INVESCO Field at Mile High Sunday night.