Out of the many plays I’ve profiled so far, you’ve heard names like John Elway, Champ Bailey, or Steve Atwater, but here is one you probably won’t recognize – Jeremiah Castille. Castille’s heads up individual effort would end up part of NFL lore and drive the Denver Broncos into their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance.
Ernest Byner and the Cleveland Browns were able to go toe to toe with Elway and the Broncos all day long. They were about to tie the game to send it into overtime when another Mile High Magical moment struck an opposing team. The Browns would face the Broncos yet again for a third championship game in 1989, but at the point there was little doubt who would advance to the Super Bowl.
Situation: 1987 AFC Championship Game. Broncos up 38-31 in the waning moments of the game with the Browns knocking on the door.
The Play: Ernest Byner runs the ball and appears to be on the verge of scoring the game tying touchdown, when Jeremiah Castille dives through to strip the ball from Byner’s grasp – sending Broncos Country a mile high.
The Fumble, like The Drive, is another example of the magic that Elway brought to the table. When players believed anything was possible, funny things would happen on both side of the ball to help the Broncos to victory. Though we saw a lot of that last year, nothing quite compares to the feeling of huge game cinching plays with the Super Bowl hanging in the balance.
On a personal note, I would end up leaving the mountainous area near Pagosa Springs the following year in 1988 for a permanent residence in Northern California, but the time I spent in that part of the state is why I am writing here today. It was the seemingly endless reservoir of improbable plays to win games that hooked me to the NFL and Denver Broncos.
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