The 1989 Denver Broncos season was the team's 30th year in professional football and its 20th with the National Football League (NFL). The head coach was Dan Reeves while Chan Gailey was the offensive coordinator and Wade Phillips was the defensive coordinator.
In the AFC Championship Game, Quarterback John Elway led the Broncos to a 37–21 victory with 385 passing yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, while also leading the Broncos in rushing with 39 yards on the ground. Denver outgained Cleveland in total yards 497 to 256 and forced three turnovers.
Denver scored first with David Treadwell's 29-yard field goal, five plays after Broncos safety Dennis Smith intercepted a pass from Bernie Kosar on the Cleveland 35 with just over two minutes left in the first quarter. Then on their next drive, Browns defensive back Frank Minnifield stumbled while trying to bump receiver Michael Young at the line of scrimmage, enabling Young to soar past him, catch a pass from Elway, and take off for a 70-yard touchdown reception that put Denver up 10-0 at the end of the half.
Cleveland struck back on their opening drive of the third quarter with a 79-yard, 8-play touchdown drive. Kosar had a 16-yard scramble on the possession, and eventually wrapped it up with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Brian Brennan, cutting the score to 10-7. However, Denver responded with a touchdown of their own, as Sammy Winder (filling in for injured starter Bobby Humphrey) rushed for 22 yards on the drive, while Elway completed a 53-yard pass to Young and finished it off with a 5-yard scoring pass to tight end Orson Mobley, putting the team back up by 10 points at 17-7. Later in the quarter, Cleveland defensive back Kyle Kramer was called for 15-yard spearing penalty on Elway's 25-yard run, setting up Winder's 7-yard touchdown run that gave the Broncos a 24-7 lead with 4:19 left in the third quarter.
Now down by 17 points, Kosar desperately rallied the Browns back, completing passes to Reggie Langhorne, Lawyer Tillman, and Webster Slaughter for gains of 27, 15, and 16 yards. Then he connected with Brennan for a 10-yard touchdown completion that made the score 24-14. A few plays after the ensuing kickoff, defensive end Al Baker forced a fumble from Broncos running back Melvin Bratton. Defensive back Felix Wright recovered the ball and returned it 27 yards to the Denver 1-yard line, setting up Tim Manoa's 2-yard td run and downing their deficit to 24-21 going into the fourth quarter.
However, Denver quickly eliminated Cleveland's comeback hopes with their opening drive of the fourth quarter. On the first play after ensuing kickoff, Elway completed a 23-yard pass Vance Johnson. Then on 3rd and 10 from the Denver 43, he completed a 20-yard pass to Johnson, two plays before hooking up with Winder for a 39-yard touchdown completion. Denver then scored field goals on each of their next two drives to put the game away.
Young finished the game with 123 yards and a touchdown on just two receptions. Johnson and 7 catches for 93 yards. This was the third time in the last four years Denver defeated Cleveland in the AFC championship game.
1989 Denver Broncos AFC Championship Ring
- Brand: Denver Broncos
- Product Code: AFC 1989
- Availability: In Stock