|1986 Denver Broncos season|
|Head coach||Dan Reeves|
|General manager||John Beake|
|Home field||Mile High Stadium|
|Division place||1st AFC West|
|Playoff finish||Won AFC Divisional Playoff (Patriots) 22–17
Won AFC Championship Game (at Browns) 23–20
Lost Super Bowl XXI (vs. Giants) 20–39
In 1986 Denver Broncos season was the franchise's 27th year in professional football and its 17th with the National Football League (NFL). They finished the regular season with a record of 11–5, returned to the playoffs after a one-year absence, won the AFC Championship over the Cleveland Browns, and lost Super Bowl XXI to the New York Giants.
|5||134||Tony Colorito||Nose Tackle||USC|
|6||151||Orson Mobley||Tight End||Salem|
|6||161||Mark Jackson||Wide Receiver||Purdue|
|7||188||Ray T. Phillips||Linebacker||North Carolina State|
|8||217||Bruce Klosterman||Linebacker||South Dakota State|
|9||244||Joe Thomas||Wide Receiver||Mississippi Valley State|
|10||271||Victor Hall||Tight End||Jackson State|
|11||301||Thomas Denby||Running Back||South Carolina|
|1986 Denver Broncos staff|
Special teams coaches
Strength and conditioning
|1986 Denver Broncos roster|
The Broncos won their first six games of the season, before being felled by the then-5-1 New York Jets on Monday Night Football. They won two more games to improve to 8–1, tied with the Jets for the best record in the league. Although they would go 3–4 down the stretch, alternating wins and losses, Denver still finished ahead of the Seahawks and Chiefs in first place in the AFC West.
|1||September 7||Los Angeles Raiders||W 38–36||Mile High Stadium||1–0||
|2||September 15||at Pittsburgh Steelers||W 21–10||Three Rivers Stadium||2–0||
|3||September 21||at Philadelphia Eagles||W 33–7||Veterans Stadium||3–0||
|4||September 28||New England Patriots||W 27–20||Mile High Stadium||4–0||
|5||October 5||Dallas Cowboys||W 29–14||Mile High Stadium||5–0||
|6||October 12||at San Diego Chargers||W 31–14||Jack Murphy Stadium||6–0||
|7||October 20||at New York Jets||L 10–22||The Meadowlands||6–1||
|8||October 26||Seattle Seahawks||W 20–13||Mile High Stadium||7–1||
|9||November 2||at Los Angeles Raiders||W 21–10||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum||8–1||
|10||November 9||San Diego Chargers||L 3–9||Mile High Stadium||8–2||
|11||November 16||Kansas City Chiefs||W 38–17||Mile High Stadium||9–2||
|12||November 23||at New York Giants||L 16–19||Giants Stadium||9–3||
|13||November 30||Cincinnati Bengals||W 34–28||Mile High Stadium||10–3||
|14||December 7||at Kansas City Chiefs||L 10–37||Arrowhead Stadium||10–4||
|15||December 13||Washington Redskins||W 31–30||Mile High Stadium||11–4||
|16||December 20||at Seattle Seahawks||L 16–41||Kingdome||11–5||
at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
|Kansas City Chiefs(5)||10||6||0||.625||5–3||9–5||358||326||W3|
|Los Angeles Raiders||8||8||0||.500||4–4||7–5||323||346||L4|
|San Diego Chargers||4||12||0||.250||1–7||4–8||335||396||L2|
|Divisional Playoffs||January 4||New England Patriots||W 22–17||Mile High Stadium||
|AFC Championship||January 11||at Cleveland Browns||W 23–20 (OT)||Cleveland Stadium||
|Super Bowl XXI||January 25||New York Giants||L 20–39||Rose Bowl||
They won their divisional playoff game against the Patriots at home 22–17. They then played the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland for the AFC Championship. The game culminated in the famous "Drive", where John Elway led a 98-yard drive for a touchdown pass to Mark Jackson to tie the game and send it to overtime, where they won by a field goal, 23–20.
This game is best remembered for The Drive when the Broncos drove 98 yards to tie the game with 37 seconds left in regulation, and Denver kicker Rich Karlis made the game-winning 33-yard field goal 5:38 into overtime.
The Browns scored first when quarterback Bernie Kosar threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to running back Herman Fontenot at the end of an 86-yard drive. But the Broncos then scored 10 unanswered points: Karlis' 19-yard field goal and running back Gerald Willhite's 1-yard rushing touchdown. Cleveland kicker Mark Moseley's 29-yard field goal before halftime tied the score, 10–10. The teams exchanged punts before Kosar completed a 48-yard touchdown pass to Brian Brennan with 5:43 remaining in regulation. Elway then led his team from their own 2-yard line to tie the game on wide receiver Mark Jackson's 5-yard touchdown reception with 37 seconds left in regulation. Karlis' game-winning field goal in overtime capped a 60-yard drive after the Browns were forced to punt.
The Browns had jumped to a 20–13 lead and the Broncos had muffed the ensuing kickoff when Elway took over, first-and-10 on their own 2-yard line, with 5:32 to play in the game.
1. – First down and 10, Denver 2-yard line. Sammy Winder 5-yard pass from Elway.
2. – Second down and 5, Denver 7-yard line. Winder 3-yard run.
3. – Third down and 2, Denver 10-yard line. Winder 2-yard run.
4. – First down and 10, Denver 12-yard line. Winder 3-yard run.
5. – Second down and 7, Denver 15-yard line. Elway 11-yard run.
6. – First down and 10, Denver 26-yard line. Steve Sewell 22-yard pass from Elway.
7. – First down and 10, Denver 48-yard line. S. Watson 12-yard pass from Elway.
8. – First down and 10, Cleveland 40-yard line (1:59 remaining). Incomplete pass by Elway, intended for Vance Johnson.
9. – Second down and 10, Cleveland 40-yard line (1:52 remaining). Dave Puzzilli sack of Elway, 8-yard loss.
10. – Third down and 18, Cleveland 48-yard line (1:47 remaining). Mark Jackson 20-yard pass from Elway.
11. – First down and 10, Cleveland 28-yard line (1:19 remaining). Incomplete pass by Elway, intended for Watson.
12. – Second down and 10, Cleveland 28-yard line (1:10 remaining). Steve Sewell 14-yard pass from Elway.
13. – First down and 10, Cleveland 14-yard line (:57 remaining). Incomplete pass by Elway, intended for Watson.
14. – Second down and 10, Cleveland 14-yard line (:42 remaining). John Elway 9-yard run (scramble).
15. – Third down and 1, Cleveland 5-yard line (:39 remaining). Mark Jackson 5-yard pass from Elway for the touchdown. Rich Karlis then adds the extra point to tie the game.
They played the Giants in Super Bowl XXI, losing 20–39, the first of Elway's five Super Bowls and the first of his three losses. Despite leading 10–9 at halftime, the Broncos collapsed in the second half as the Giants scored 30 points to Denver's ten.
Denver scored 378 points during the year, sixth in the NFL. They gave up 327 points, 15th in the league.
The Broncos were 17th in the league in total offense, with 5,489 yards. They had 3,811 passing yards and 1,678 rushing yards. They had 22 passing touchdowns and 17 rushing touchdowns.
They were 17th in the league with 3,755 passing yards given up and 15th with 1,891 rushing yards given up. They were 21st in overall defense with 5,646 yards given up.
The team's 11–5 record is their sixth-best 16-game season in franchise history.