In our new Broncos Legends series, we'll revisit the careers of some of the best players in franchise history with video highlights and rarely seen photos - and they'll join us to break down their favorite moments as a Bronco and more. Former Pro Bowl quarterback Jake Plummer is leading us off, and as we begin, here's a refresher on his time in Denver.
Plummer joined the Broncos as a free agent in 2003 following a six-year stint in Arizona to start his career. A former second-round draft pick in 1997, Plummer played his collegiate football at Arizona State, where he finished third in the Heisman Trophy vote and led ASU to a Pac-10 title as a senior. The Sun Devils nearly won a national title that year behind Plummer's play.
In Denver, he brought stability to the Broncos' quarterback room. The Broncos had been in search of a long-term option at signal caller following John Elway's retirement in early 1999, and Plummer provided that for the better part of four seasons. Plummer started 54 games during his four years in Denver and led the Broncos to playoff berths in three consecutive seasons from 2003-05. "Jake the Snake" set the franchise record for passing yards in a game when he threw for 499 in an October game against the Falcons. The record still stands. A year later, during that third playoff run, Plummer and the Broncos went 13-3 and defeated the New England Patriots to advance to the 2005 AFC Championship.
The mobile Plummer made his lone Pro Bowl in 2005, but he posted higher yardage and touchdown totals in 2004, as he threw for 27 touchdowns and more than 4,000 yards. His 20 interceptions that season, though, did drop to just seven in 2005. He made the NFL's all-star game after initially being named an alternate.
Plummer played just 11 more games for the Broncos after the team's stellar 2005 season, as he was replaced by Jay Cutler late in 2006.
One Pro Bowls (2005); All-Rookie Team member (1997, with Arizona); Four Offensive Player of the Week honors (Three with Denver); Most passing yards in a single game in team history (499); Third in team history in career yards (12,301); Second-highest winning percentage as a starting QB in team history (.722, min. 25 starts); Broncos Top 100 Team member; College Football Hall of Fame inductee
Stats to know
54 starts in 59 career games in Denver, a 39-15 record, 59.1% completion rate, 11,631 passing yards, 71 passing touchdowns, 84.3 quarterback rating, five fourth-quarter comebacks, 10 game-winning drives
In his own words
Plummer on his mentality and playing style:
"I played with a lot of passion. I went out there every time to try to win; a lot of times, that might have been sometimes my biggest fault. But also my greatest attribute was that I believe that every play was a play we should make and make work. Sometimes, you know, you've got to just let the ball go out of bounds or give up on a play and know that you're going to have an opportunity later. But when I was in that moment, my passion would take over. My will to win and want to succeed would take over, and sometimes I would forget we had a 10-point lead and you're supposed to be careful with the ball. It was just my nature to be 100 percent immersed in going full speed and doing whatever I felt like, kind of losing myself to the moment and going after it. That was pretty much me - a scrappy competitor that was going to fight and claw to the end."
Three games to remember
Week 2, 2003: Broncos 37, Chargers 13
In just his second start with the Broncos, Plummer completed 9-of-13 passes for 94 yards ... and three touchdowns. His quarterback rating was 129.5 in a blowout win over San Diego. A week later, he was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week after he tossed two more scores in a blowout win over Oakland.
Week 9, 2004: Broncos 31, Texans 13
Plummer threw for 499 yards and four touchdowns in Week 8 of that season against the Falcons, but he also tossed three interceptions and the Broncos lost by double digits. A week later, he rebounded to post a 137.8 quarterback rating and throw four touchdowns and no interceptions. It was the best touchdown-to-interception ratio of his career at that point.
Week 8, 2005: Broncos 49, Eagles 21
Plummer earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the final time in his career as he threw for 309 yards and four touchdowns against the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles. Denver galloped past Philadelphia as part of a stretch in which Denver won 14 of 16 games.