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Historical Vault: Broncos-Bills

A blizzard delayed the Broncos' trip to Buffalo in 1997. But the wait was worth it as the Broncos won in OT.

  • WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 7; 2:05 p.m. MST
  • WHERE: Sports Authority Field at Mile High
  • TV: CBS
  • SERIES *RECORD*: Bills lead, 19-15-1 (Bills lead, 1-0, in the postseason)
  • SERIES STREAK: Buffalo has won the last two.
  • LAST TIME: Bills 40, Broncos 14; Dec. 24, 2011. When looking back at the short-but-memorable Tim Tebow era in Denver, this game stands out as the beginning of the end. The disciplined Bills defense did not overreact to the read option, stayed at home, and eventually forced Tebow to drop back and throw, which set up a spate of late giveaways that turned a competitive game into a romp. Jairus Byrd's 37-yard pick-six midway through the fourth quarter effectively ended the Broncos' comeback hopes. Denver's defense allowed just one touchdown and four field goals, but the Bills scored twice on defense and on a Leodis McKelvin punt return, rendering its good work moot. 

  • LAST TIME IN DENVER **: Bills 30, Broncos 23; Dec. 21, 2008. Of the three games the Broncos dropped in their collapse at the end of the 2008 season, this was easily the most winnable. It was at home, against a team that had lost seven of its last eight games after a 5-1 start. The Broncos drove to a touchdown on their opening series, powered by running back P.J. Pope, who accounted for more than half of the 80 yards on the drive. But Pope and his backup, Selvin Young, were both injured, leaving Tatum Bell as the only healthy runner. The Broncos gradually abandoned the run, handing off just five times after halftime after running on 22 of 36 first-half plays. That left the game resting on Jay Cutler's right arm, where the Broncos' hopes died on a Kawika Mitchell interception at the goal line and an end-zone, fourth-down incompletion with 32 seconds left in regulation. The Broncos lost one week later at San Diego, completing a fade that handed the AFC West to the Chargers.


  • The Bills' quarterback is a familiar face: Kyle Orton, the Broncos' starter for 33 games from 2009-11 before losing the job to Tebow. Orton has already started -- and won -- in a return to Denver, leading the Chiefs to a 7-3 win in the 2011 regular-season finale. Orton looks to become the first ex-Broncos quarterback to defeat the Broncos twice since Steve DeBerg went 2-4 as the Chiefs' starter against the Broncos from 1988-91 (which included an 0-3 mark at Mile High Stadium).
  • · This year's meeting will be the fourth time in the last five games in the series in which the teams have dueled in December. They played in Week 15 of the 2005 season (a 28-17 Denver win) and in the afore-mentioned games in 2008 and 2011 (both in Week 16). Their other game in that span came at the near-opposite pole of the season: Week 1 at Buffalo in 2007, a 15-14 win.
  • That game in Orchard Park, N.Y. is best remembered by one word repeated: "Toro! Toro!" At the time, that was the signal for the offense to sprint off the field and the field-goal team to dash on in its place with the clock running in the final seconds. Todd Sauerbrun fielded the snap from Mike Leach, and Jason Elam drilled a 42-yard field goal at the final gun. The trio and their eight teammates on the kick had help -- from overeager onlookers ready to celebrate. "Buffalo fans, thanks to them, because they actually gave us the countdown on the time," safety Nick Ferguson said after the game. "Guys knew exactly when to get down."
  • Manning became familiar with the Bills early in his career, when the Colts and Buffalo were AFC East rivals. The Colts lost three of Manning's first four starts against the Bills before winning the next six in succession between 2000 and 2006. As a starter, Manning was 4-1 against the Bills at home, only losing as a rookie, when the Colts finished 3-13. In Manning's next four home starts against Buffalo, his team won by an average of 14.5 points.
  • From 1989-95, the Broncos and Bills met six times, with Buffalo winning four. The teams dueled the same number of times in the 18 seasons that followed, with the Broncos winning four of those games.
  • Four of the last six Broncos-Bills games were decided by seven or fewer points.
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