The Denver Broncos are one of the most storied franchises in the NFL. With eight appearances in the Super Bowl and two Lombardi Trophies, the Broncos have compiled a history to be envied since the franchise was established in 1960. Since 1975, the Broncos have only suffered through six seasons with losing records. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe are among their former players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while Terrell Davis is a finalist this year and current quarterback Peyton Manning is a future Hall of Famer.
Their appearance in Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers will mark the eighth trip to the big game for the Broncos, which is tied for the most in league history alongside the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately for the Broncos, those teams have all won more Super Bowls. Denver has also lost more Super Bowls than any other team in the NFL.
And when the Broncos have lost in the Super Bowl, they've been demolished. In their five defeats, the average score has been 41-12:
|XII||Jan. 15, 1978||Dallas Cowboys||27-10 L|
|XXI||Jan. 25, 1987||New York Giants||39-20 L|
|XXII||Jan 31, 1988||Washington||42-10 L|
|XXIV||Jan. 28, 1990||San Francisco 49ers||55-10 L|
|XXXII||Jan. 25, 1998||Green Bay Packers||31-24 W|
|XXXIII||Jan. 31, 1999||Atlanta Falcons||34-19 W|
|XLVIII||Feb. 2, 2014||Seattle Seahawks||43-8 L|
The San Francisco 49ers scored the most points in Super Bowl history when they scored eight touchdowns and put up 55 on Denver in Super Bowl XXIV. The 45-point game was also the largest margin of victory in Super Bowl history.
And the Broncos have been on the receiving end of more than one of those. In their last trip to the Super Bowl in 2014, they fell to the Seattle Seahawks, and the game wasn't even close. Seattle dominated them, 43-8. Two years before their blowout loss to the 49ers, Washington toppled them, 42-10.
The final score in those Super Bowls might have been embarrassing, but there was no shame in losing to those specific opponents. The 49ers team they lost to had Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, arguably the greatest quarterback and wide receiver to ever play the game. The 2014 Seahawks were one of the most fast, aggressive defensive teams in the history of the league.
If the Broncos fall to the Panthers in Super Bowl 50, it won't be shocking from a matchup standpoint. Carolina, led by MVP frontrunner Cam Newton, is a 5.5-point favorite. Although both the No. 1 seeds in the conference, the Panthers only dropped a single game in the regular season and cruised through the playoffs on the way to the Super Bowl.
And if they pull off the unexpected victory, as they did in the AFC Championship against the New England Patriots, it won't erase those uglier memories. But it'd be hard to blame the Broncos for feeling extra triumphant, like a weight had been lifted off the entire franchise's shoulders.
However, if the Broncos don't win, it'll just be another Super Bowl loss for an organization that's notorious for them. Nobody can take away victories in Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII, but a 2-6 record in the big game won't help the Broncos' reputation for not showing up when it matters most.