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The history of Detroit Lions vs. Denver Broncos

Taking a look back at the brief history, best and worst games of these two teams.

(HC) BRONCOS_LIONS— Detroit Lions special team stops the kick off return of Denver Broncos Glenn Martinez in the 2nd quarter of the game at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday. Detroit won 44-7. Hyoung Chang/ The Denver Post Photo By Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Detroit Lions will be heading to Denver on Sunday for the first time since 2019 to take on the Broncos. There’s not a lot of history here, But, there is history and we’re going to jump right into it. Follow me, here we go.

The first time

It feels like the Denver Broncos have been around since the formation of football, but they started in 1960, 26 years after the Lions played their first snap in Detroit. Still, the Broncos didn’t play the Lions until 11 years later in 1971 when the Broncos welcomed Detroit to Denver for the first time ever.

The Lions would win that game when Greg Landry outdueled Don Horn and the Broncos in a 24-20 back-and-forth game.

You could hear Cher’s Gypsy’s, “Tramps and Thieves” blaring from the Lions’ locker room after the game. It, of course, was the number one song in America at the time. Then everyone went to see Clint Eastwood in “Play Misty For Me.”

Random stats

As I mentioned before, there isn’t much history here. The Lions have only played the Broncs 13 times. The Lions are 5-8 against the Broncos in their history. The Lions haven’t beaten the Broncos in 10 years. We’ll talk a little more about that later. Speaking of 10 years, the Lions and Broncos went nearly 10 years without playing each other in the 1990s. The Lions beat the Broncos 40-27 on Thanksgiving day in 1990 and didn’t play the Broncos again until Christmas day in 1999. They lost that game 17-7.

Here’s where it gets ugly. The Lions have only won in Denver twice. The 2011 game and that 1971 game where the teams met for the first time. It must be the altitude.

Worst memory

The worst memory has to be the primetime game in 2015. The Lions lost 24-12 in a very ugly game that was part of the Lions’ very ugly first half of the season. Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions, and the Lions just could not get into the end zone. It certainly didn’t help that the Lions ran for just 29 yards in the entire game.

This game did provide one hilarious moment that I will never forget. A large group of Lions fans trying to set a Matthew Stafford jersey on fire outside and failing horribly. There must have been 10 people trying to get it lit and they just couldn’t do it. Then they all panicked and spit on the jersey instead. Finally they left with the jersey. You don’t forget seeing things like that. I wish I had video.

Best memory/game dive

Very easy. The day the 2011 Lions beat the Tim Tebow led Broncos. As a matter of fact, that game is this week's game dive.

Tim Tebow as a starting quarterback is still a really weird thing to me. I feel like the NFL is still trying to make quarterbacks like Tebow happen now. Look at Taysom Hill. Another guy that can’t actually play quarterback, but keeps getting more money and is super popular.

The Lions gave Tebow one of the worst games of his career. Tebow got sacked seven times, threw an interception that Chris Houston took 100 yards to the house, fumbled three times, and lost one that Cliff Avril took to the end zone. Tebow finished the game with a paltry 56.8 passer rating.

On the Lions side of things, Matthew Stafford bombed all over the Broncos defense for 367 yards and three touchdowns. Calvin Johnson had six receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown. Then Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams finished things off with a combined 83 rushing yards and a score.

The Lions walked out of Denver with a 45-10 win, which remains the fourth-highest positive point differential for the Lions in a game since 1995. Detroit would march onto the playoffs for the first time in 10 years later that season. You can see Dan Miller call the highlights here.