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Flashback: Broncos-Colts, 1983

Posted Sep 28, 2007

John Elway was drafted by the Baltimore Colts, but after refusing to play for the team, he was subsequently traded to Denver. However, Elway still had to go to Baltimore as a rookie ... for a Week 2 duel.

John Elway
John Elway announced in April 1983 that he refused to play for the Baltimore Colts and would rather play minor league baseball, so the Colts traded him to the Denver Broncos. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Denver vs. Baltimore
Sept. 11, 1983
Memorial Stadium
Weather: Hot and humid, 99 degrees

DENVER – The Week 2 matchup in 1983 between the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Colts was much more than just an early-season tilt between two AFC teams, at least for the Colts fans.

There was bad blood and a hostile atmosphere at Memorial Stadium that day -- all because of a rookie quarterback by the name of John Elway.

Elway was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the previous draft by the Colts, but balked at playing for the Colts, deciding that he would pursue a career in baseball with the New York Yankees organization rather than play for a team that had just completed an 0-8-1 season.

Fearing they would get nothing from their top pick, the Colts traded Elway to the Broncos for Denver's first-round pick that year (offensive tackle Chris Hinton), a first-round pick in the 1984 draft, and quarterback Mark Herrmann.

So it was easy to see why the Colts fans would be in a foul mood when Elway strode into Baltimore leading a team other than the Colts.

But it would be a quarterback other than Elway who took control and led the Broncos to a 17-10 win.

On this oppressive September day, the Colts and Broncos squared off in Elway's second career start, and the game began as an even struggle.

The Colts jumped on the scoreboard first on a first-quarter Raul Allegre 32-yard field goal, but the Broncos evened the score in the second quarter when Rich Karlis booted a 42-yard field goal. At the half, it was 3-3.

The teams remained deadlocked at 3 throughout the third quarter. Elway struggled, going 9-for-21 for 106 yards, and was replaced by veteran quarterback Steve DeBerg late in the quarter.

Baltimore took the lead early in the fourth quarter as safety Larry Anderson scooped up a Rick Parros fumble and returned it 41 yards for a score. The ensuing extra point put the Colts up 10-3 with 11:45 to go.

Although Elway went on to lead many a comeback in his career, it was DeBerg who led the Broncos to a victory on this day.

DeBerg led the Broncos on a quick-strike drive of only three plays that covered 50 yards, capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Steve Watson. After the extra point, the score was tied 10-10.

After the Broncos defense held strong and forced two consecutive Baltimore punts, DeBerg led another quick scoring drive, leading the team 58 yards on three plays. With only 29 seconds remaining in the game, DeBerg dove into the end zone from two yards out to give the Broncos a 17-10 lead.

The Colts' last-ditch efforts came to a halt as Denver safety Dennis Smith intercepted the final pass of the game, sealing the victory for the Broncos.

In a relief effort, DeBerg finished 9-of-11 for 158 yards, with one passing and one rushing touchdown. Watson was the highlight on offense, grabbing six passes for 161 yards.



WR - 80 Rick Upchurch
LT - 70 Dave Studdard
LG - 54 Keith Bishop
C - 64 Billy Bryan
RG - 60 Paul Howard
RT - 76 Ken Lanier
TE - 87 Jim Wright
WR - 81 Steve Watson
QB - 7 John Elway
RB - 23 Sammy Winder
FB - 24 Rick Parros

LE - 79 Barney Chavous
NT - 72 Don Latimer
RE - 75 Rulon Jones
LOLB - 51 Bob Swenson
LILB - 59 Steve Busick
RILB - 53 Randy Gradishar
ROLB - 57 Tom Jackson
LCB - 20 Louis Wright
RCB - 31 Mike Harden
SS - 49 Dennis Smith
FS - 43 Steve Foley


WR - 85 Matt Bouza
LT - 78 Karl Baldischwiler
LG - 75 Chris Hinton
C - 75 Ray Donaldson
RG - 73 Steve Wright
RT - 76 Jim Mills
TE - 83 Tim Sherwin
WR - 80 Ray Butler
QB - 18 Mike Pagel
RB - 33 Curtis Dickey
FB - 32 Randy McMillan

LE - 99 Donnell Thompson
NT - 69 Leo Wisniewski
RE - 78 Steve Parker
LOLB - 52 Greg Bracelin
LILB - 98 Johnie Cooks
RILB - 55 Barry Krauss
ROLB - 56 Vernon Maxwell
LCB - 45 James Burroughs
RCB - 42 Derrick Hatchett
SS - 30 Larry Anderson
FS - 26 Kim Anderson


BALTIMORE R. Allegre, 32-yard field goal 8:06
DENVER R. Karlis, 42-yard field goal 1:51
BALTIMORE L. Anderson, 41-yard fumble return (R. Allegre kick) 11:45
DENVER S. Watson, 24-yard pass from S. DeBerg (R. Karlis kick) 4:55
DENVER S. DeBerg, 2-yard run (R. Karlis kick) 0:29

Total Net Yards 271 327
Net Rushing Yards 150 104
Net Passing Yards 121 223
Third Down Efficiency 1-14-7% 3-16-19%
Time of Possession 28:22 31:38