|9/6||Los Angeles Raiders||17-13|
|9/13||San Diego Chargers||21-13|
|9/20||at Philadelphia Eagles||0-30|
|9/27||at Cleveland Browns||12-0|
|10/4||Kansas City Chiefs||20-19|
|10/12||at Washington Redskins||3-34|
|10/25||at San Diego Chargers||21-24|
|11/8||New York Jets||27-16|
|11/15||New York Giants||27-13|
|11/22||at Los Angeles Raiders||0-24|
|11/30||at Seattle Seahawks||13-16|
|12/12||at Buffalo Bills||17-27|
|12/27||at Kansas City Chiefs||20-42|
An injury, a QB shuffle, and the end of the Reeves Era
When John Elway suffered a right shoulder injury 10 games into the 1992 season, the Broncos were 7-3 and looked to be rolling along to their eighth winning season and seventh playoff appearance in a decade.
But behind the scenes, the ties between Elway and head coach Dan Reeves were fraying.
The Broncos had used their first-round pick that year on UCLA quarterback Tommy Maddox. Maddox would eventually start in the NFL, and win a playoff game. But that was a decade, four NFL teams, and three leagues away. In 1992, he looked out of his comfort zone in his first two starts, which the Broncos lost by a combined 40-13 margin.
“Rookies have so many things to think about,” Reeves said. “I felt I’d give them a little more time to think about the execution, talking to them on the sideline from there to when they got in the huddle.”
It got a bit awkward when the Broncos needed to run the two-minute offense. When that happened, each quarterback was given multiple plays, so he could stay on the field until the clock stopped. With the Broncos trailing 31-27, Maddox ran two plays, Moore two, Maddox one, Moore two and Maddox the last one — an interception by Cowboys cornerback Kenneth Gant with 1:16 left that squashed the upset threat. Maddox threw three touchdowns, but had four interceptions. Moore avoided the big mistakes and brought the threat of the run.
But the best passer that day was wide receiver and punt returner Arthur Marshall, who hit Cedric Tillman for an 81-yard touchdown. To this day, Marshall has the best quarterbacking career stat line in Broncos history: two completions on two attempts, 111 yards, two touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
The Maddox/Moore rotation continued for another week, but Moore threw three interceptions in a loss at Buffalo. Elway returned for Weeks 16 and 17, but it was too little, too late; the Broncos split the games and finished 8-8.
One day later, Reeves was dismissed, with barely a month left on his contract.
“Life goes on,” said Reeves, who wasted no time landing the same job with the New York Giants. He would coach another 11 seasons in the NFL, go to the Super Bowl once more, and win four playoff games. But he never had another quarterback like Elway, and the slight decline in his results reflected that reality.
The Broncos still had the quarterback; Elway would return for the 1993 season. As it turned out, his best was yet to come.