SAN DIEGO - The Denver Broncos and John Elway hope to purge the past Sunday and make amends for their three Super Bowl losses. In increasingly ugly performances in title games, the Broncos lost to the New York Giants 39-20 in 1987, to the Washington Redskins 42-10 in 1988 and to the San Francisco 49ers 55-10 in 1990. In each case, the Broncos were beaten by hot quarterbacks, each of whom won the Super Bowl MVP award. Including a 27-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in 1978 before Elway arrived, Denver's Super Bowl record dropped to 0-4, matching the Minnesota Vikings and since equaled by the Buffalo Bills. Elway has never watched videotape of the losses _ but he remembers. "The games were similar, the steamroller just started earlier," he said. "In the Giants' game, we were in it until halftime. We didn't take advantage of some opportunities we had in the first half, and they dominated the second half. "Against the Redskins, we were up 10-0, then 19 plays later they score 35 points. That one was over in the second quarter. "The 49ers dominated before kickoff." Here's a look at the three Denver-Elway tragedies: ---- 1987, Pasadena, Calif. "The Drive," Elway's fabled 98-yard march against Cleveland in the AFC championship game, got the Broncos to the Super Bowl in his fourth season. The magic didn't last. Elway completed 13 of 20 passes for 187 yards in the first half of the Super Bowl, helping to give Denver a 10-7 lead, but missed opportunities were costly. Rich Karlis kicked a Super Bowl record-tying 48-yard field goal, and Elway capped a scoring drive with a 4-yard TD run. But the Broncos then failed to score after having a first-and-goal at the Giants 1. After three unsuccessful running plays, Karlis missed a 23-yard field goal. The Broncos drove to the New York 16 on their final possession of the half, but Karlis missed again. Elway was sacked for a second-quarter safety, leaving the halftime score 10-9. From that point on, it was all New York. Elway and the Denver offense were silenced in the third quarter, while Giants quarterback Phil Simms led his team to scores on all three possessions in the quarter, outgaining Denver 163 yards to 2. Simms, who set Super Bowl records for consecutive completions (10) and completion percentage (.880 on 22 of 25), threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns to earn the game's MVP award. Elway had admirable statistics, completing 22 of 37 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown. Simms, however, was nearly perfect. "He was absolutely magnificent," Giants coach Bill Parcells said. "He quarterbacked as good a game as ever has been played. I don't think he threw one bad pass." Simms agreed. "In my wildest dreams, I couldn't have hoped it would work out like that," he said. "Everything I tried I felt was there. I didn't throw one ball where I said, 'I wish I had that one back.' It was really close to perfect. "Coming in, I wasn't scared of playing Elway. We were the hot team. Our offense was pretty good. I didn't understand why people were not taking us seriously." ___ 1988, San Diego The Broncos returned the next year as slim favorites over the Redskins, and immediately jumped on top. On Denver's first play from scrimmage, Elway found Ricky Nattiel for a 56-yard scoring strike, and Karlis kicked a 24-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead. But the momentum swung suddenly in the second quarter. Just 53 seconds into the period, Doug Williams found Ricky Sanders on an 80-yard touchdown pass. Before the quarter ended, the Redskins had added four more scores. The 35-point outburst, a Super Bowl record for one quarter, included another 50-yard TD pass to Sanders and Timmy Smith's 58-yard scoring run. Karlis' missed 43-yard field goal attempt was Denver's last offensive gasp. The Broncos didn't advance past the Washington 48 in the second half and wound up being outgained 602-327. Williams finished his MVP afternoon by completing 18 of 29 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns, while Smith had a record 204 yards and two scores. "Nobody really gave us a chance," Williams said, "and I think being the underdogs gave us a chance to relax. I wasn't concerned about Elway. He didn't blitz me one time. "I've never been involved in a game like that, where the momentum switched so suddenly and so decisively. We were scoring in one or two plays. Our execution was flawless." Denver coach Dan Reeves said: "I don't think anybody could have beaten Washington that day." ___ 1990, New Orleans Incredibly, it got even worse for the Broncos on their next trip, their third in four years. The Broncos were dominated almost from the opening kickoff by the defending champion 49ers. San Francisco scored touchdowns on four of its six first-half possessions to take a 27-3 lead at the half. Interceptions ended Denver's first two possessions of the second half. Elway's 3-yard run in the third quarter accounted for the only touchdown. Joe Montana was named MVP for a record third time, completing 22 of 29 passes for 297 yards and a then-Super Bowl record five touchdowns. Jerry Rice caught seven passes for 148 yards and three TDs. The Niners' defense forced Elway into one of his worst games. He completed only 10 of 26 passes for 108 yards and was intercepted twice and sacked four times. "It was like we were in the twilight zone," running back Roger Craig said. "I mean, we were scoring at will, the defense was playing well _ everybody was in sync. It was unreal." Rice said Montana used everyone on the football field. "When we get everything clicking like that, we're hard to stop," the receiver said. Montana said the 49ers were on a mission. "We were very determined," he said. "The offensive line played fantastic. They make my job easy when I can sit back there and look around." Dazed Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, whose unit allowed 461 yards, said Montana "picked us apart."