John Elway, in his best day as a professional, threw five touchdown passes to give the Denver Broncos a 42-21 victory over the Minnesota Vikings today. He played only 2 1/2 periods.
The Vikings fell behind, 21-0, before getting a first down. "Bring on the Seahawks," the scoreboard at Mile High Stadium flashed.
The Broncos, who lead the AFC West at 11-1, have won 10 straight. They will play the second-place Seattle Seahawks (10-2) here next week. The easy victory came at the right time for Coach Dan Reeves. Looking ahead to the Seahawks, he rested his regulars as much as possible. Even so, the Broncos totaled 435 yards, their best this season.
"Well, we finally got one of those games," said Reeves, who called Elway's play "just awesome."
"I'm glad we got some points up," Elway said. "If that doesn't satisfy people as far as putting points on the board is concerned, I don't know what will. The offensive line did a great job all day long. I had lots of time, and the receivers ran great routes.
"I was a little disappointed to come out of the game in the third quarter but we have a big game next week. I plan to have fun. We've got to win."
Even when Elway was pressured, he easily sidestepped away. Several teammates credited Reeves' light practices last week, which allowed them to rest weary legs. Wide receiver Butch Johnson said the practices allowed him to play much better.
Denver running back Sammy Winder admitted the Broncos have been looking forward for two or three weeks to the Seattle game but said Reeves was able to keep their minds on the games at hand.
"I felt good today for the first time in some time," Winder said. "Now Seattle is here and we're rested and ready."
Elway, in his second year in the NFL, put Denver ahead, 35-7, by halftime by throwing four touchdown passes, including a 26-yarder to Steve Watson. Three of those scores were set up by turnovers.
Elway directed another successful drive on the opening series of the second half, passing to Watson from 13 yards out with 8:16 to go in the third quarter for a 42-7 lead.
Elway then left the game, having completed 16 of 19 passes for 218 yards, with no interceptions. His five scoring passes tied Frank Tripucka's team record of 1962.
"They weren't lucky today," Coach Les Steckel of the Vikings (3-9) said.