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Way Back When: Memorable moments vs. the Chargers


When the Denver Broncos host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, the game will feature two milestones: one for the team and one that is personal for me.

This is the 95th time I have seen the Broncos play the Chargers. The overall record at home is 43-18-1 favoring the Broncos.

That number of "95" began in 1965 and continues to today. It includes regular, preseason and postseason games, games played Empower Field at Mile High, Mile High Stadium, Hilltop Stadium (the former football stadium at the University of Denver), as well as an American Bowl game played in Sydney, Australia.

There is a lot of history in those games.

As for the second milestone statistic, this is my 1,000th pro game that I've attended or worked in person.

As to how anyone could come up with such a figure, it started as a retirement research project. I spent the better part of four days figuring this out several years ago, and after counting and recounting the games, the rest was just addition from that point forward.

It seems to me that is an amazing statistic, one that began in 1964 with a Denver win over the New York Jets, then continued as a season ticket holder, with games missed while in the United States Army in 1970-71 and then continuing to this day. Of course, when you see every home and road game for 36 years (1978-2013) and then continue to see all the home games after that, they do add up.

And regarding the Chargers, there have been some great moments to remember in this series.

During a period starting in 1972, Denver rolled to an 11-1 winning record over the then San Diego Chargers. Of course, Denver enjoyed great success in the back-to-back world championship years of 1997 and 1998, posting seven wins in eight games against the Chargers.

But I still remember the time in 1969, when the Broncos were in the American Football League and playing in Mile High Stadium. The scoreboard was like those you used to see in minor league baseball, a contraption in which someone had to manually insert the teams.

It turned out someone got their hands on a key and ascended the scoreboard. Then they removed the name "San Diego" from the scoreboard and, in place of the city, put in the letters to make it say "Hot Dogs."

The Broncos won that game 13-0, but the Chargers officials made it clear to Broncos officials that they did not approve of the prank.

In 1962, the Broncos scored 50 points against San Diego, which is the only time Denver had a 50-point game against the Chargers.

But in the next two games the Chargers got plenty of revenge scoring 100 total points against Denver (58 in the first game and 42 in the second). Those were brutal days for Bronco fans.

And years later, in a 1985 game in Denver, the Broncos and Chargers played one of the rare games in which the first and last touches of the football went for touchdowns.

Running back Gary Anderson of San Diego returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.

It was a hard-fought game that went into overtime, 24-24.

San Diego tried a field goal for the win, but Ring of Fame safety Dennis Smith blocked the kick and fellow Ring of Famer Louis Wright scooped it up and returned it for the winning touchdown.

It has been a long and eventful series between these two AFC West rivals, and I am glad that this game will be my 1,000th overall pro game.

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