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Way Back Wednesday: A prime-time anniversary for the Broncos and Chiefs

This week's game against the Kansas City Chiefs marks the 25th anniversary of one of the greatest “Monday Night Football” games of all time.

On Oct. 17, 1994, the Broncos and Chiefs staged a classic battle on national television, with two legendary quarterbacks showing why they were ultimately elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In a game that would ultimately be decided by quarterbacks John Elway and Joe Montana, the first quarter was ruled by punters as the two heavyweights felt each other out.

At the end of the scoreless first quarter, though, the Broncos intercepted Montana. Three plays later, running back Leonard Russell scored to make it 7-0, Broncos.

An explosive second quarter ensued, as Chiefs running back Marcus Allen evened the score with a 7-yard touchdown. Then Elway and Montana each led touchdown drives that ended with scoring passes, making it 14-14 at the half.

Halftime did not cool the Chiefs or Montana, as they took the first possession of the second half 76 yards in 10 plays, with Montana tossing a 4-yard scoring pass to offensive lineman-turned-receiver Joe Valerio to make it 21-14, Chiefs.

Two possessions later, Elway led the Broncos right back on an eight-play scoring drive that culminated with a 20-yard scoring pass to tight end Jerry Evans.

The Chiefs regained the lead in the middle of the fourth quarter on a field goal, and then tight end Shannon Sharpe had the ball jarred loose with 2:45 remaining. It did not look good for the Broncos, but defensive tackle Ted Washington forced an Allen fumble that was recovered by Karl Mecklenburg at the Kansas City 39.

Elway took matters into his own hands, and six plays later he dashed into the end zone from 4 yards out to put the Broncos ahead, 28-24, with 1:29 left on the clock.

But that would prove to be just enough time for Montana, who led KC on an incredible nine-play, 75-yard drive in which he completed seven of eight passes, capping the drive with the game-winning toss to wide receiver Willie Davis with just eight seconds remaining.

The final score was Kansas City 31, Denver 28, and the Broncos dropped to 1-5.

It was one of the most crushing losses in Broncos history, and it was small consolation to Denver fans when the game was named one of the greatest in “Monday Night Football” history.

But history was kind to the Broncos, as a mere five years later Elway would guide Denver to consecutive Super Bowl titles and retire from his playing career as Super Bowl XXXIII’s Most Valuable Player.

And since then he has taken the Broncos to two more Super Bowls as the general manager and lead executive guiding football operations, with another world championship in Super Bowl 50.

But that night 25 years ago, he passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, before Joe Montana threw his third scoring pass of the game to cap a great win for the Chiefs and put a temporary dagger in the heart of Bronco Country.

Today that game is a part of the rich historical tapestry that these two original American Football League teams have woven, and now they once again meet on prime time in the Mile High City, with the stage set for another game that could prove legendary.

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