Role Players: Jeremiah Castille and “The Fumble”
In 1986, the Denver Broncos crushed the Super Bowl dreams of the Cleveland Browns with “The Drive.”
The “Mistake by the Lake”, and its “Dawg Pound” fans, were silenced as Denver quarterback John Elway orchestrated a legendary 15 play, 98 yard drive in the game’s final five minutes. His touchdown pass to Mark Jackson
sent the game into overtime where the Broncos won on a Rich Karlis field goal.
One year later, the Browns attempted to produce their own “drive”. Trailing 38-31,with just over a minute left in regulation, Cleveland reached the Denver eight yard-line looking to tie the game.
Enter Jeremiah Castille.
In his fifth NFL season, the former Alabama Crimson Tide All-American, was in his first year with the Broncos. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Castille started 45 of his first 60 NFL games from 1983-1986.
Though playing in 11 games during 1987, Castille did not start and was used as a backup cornerback, many times in special situations. Such was the case in the AFC title game.
On first and goal from Denver’s 8-yard line, Castille came into the game as the Bronco’s expected Cleveland to throw. Showing a three-wide formation, and Denver with an extra DB, Brown’s quarterback Bernie Kosar changed from a passing to a running play.
Castille took advantage of his opportunity.
Kosar handed-off to 215-pound Earnest Byner and the Columbus, Georgia native was barreling toward the end zone for an apparent score. Outweighed by 40 pounds, Castille came off his coverage duties and met Byner in the hole, stripping the ball loose and recovering “The Fumble” at the two-yard line.
Watch the play and listen to the call from NBC’s Dick Enberg here.
Because he kept his focus and played his role, Castille helped Denver to a second consecutive Super Bowl and the little-known cornerback is now forever-known in Bronco history.
Nearly 30 years later, Castille’s current roles include teaching, coaching and leading his Christian-based Jeremiah Castille Foundation.