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A Tale of Two Halves Dooms Chargers
It was a tale of two halves. The Chargers dominated the first 30 minutes to take a 24-0 lead only to see the Broncos put up a furious rally and ultimately steal a 35-24 victory at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Chargers started off fast with a pair of opportunistic turnovers on special teams. First, Trindon Holliday muffed a punt when Marcus Gilchrist was pushed into him. Dante Rosario outmuscled the Broncos to come away with the loose football, and the Bolts turned it into three points. Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Darrell Stuckey forced a fumble that was recovered by Richard Goodman. Two plays later, Philip Rivers hit Antonio Gates for his first touchdown of the season, and just like that, it was 10-0 Chargers at the end of the first quarter.
Peyton Manning was marching the Broncos down the field in the second quarter when Quentin Jammer did something he has never done in his 11-year career – return an interception for a touchdown. Jammer caught the ball on the right sideline at the Bolts own 20-yard line and brought it 80-yards to the house. Then, after the defense proved stout in thwarting the Broncos offense yet again, Rivers drove down field and hit Gates for his second touchdown of the game. At the half, the Bolts led 24-0.
That’s when it all unraveled. The Broncos came out with a purpose. They scored their first points of the game when Manning hit Demaryius Thomas for a 29-yard touchdown less than five minutes into the game. On the Chargers next drive, Rivers was stripped as he dropped back to pass. Tony Carter recovered it and brought it 65-yards all the way back for a touchdown. With 4:41 to go in the third quarter, the Chargers lead was narrowed down to 10, 24-14.
The Broncos continued to cut that lead even further when Eric Decker dragged a gaggle of defenders into the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown. With 13:33 remaining in the game, the Chargers led 24-21, but the momentum had already shifted. On the ensuing drive, Rivers went deep for Robert Meachem on third down but Tony Carter picked it off and returned it to midfield. Manning made San Diego pay for the mistake when he found Brandon Stokely in the right corner of the end zone to give the visitors their first lead of the game. Chris Harris sealed the win for the Broncos with a pick six with 2:15 remaining in the game.
The Broncos had just scored coming out of halftime, and the Chargers looked to quell any momentum they may be building. It was going well for the Bolts, as they were driving into Denver territory and were within field goal range. Then, on third down, Rivers dropped back to pass and was stripped by Elvis Dumervil. The ball took a couple bounces before Tony Carter scooped it up and ran 65-yards for the touchdown. In the blink of an eye, the score was 24-14 and the Broncos had all the momentum in the world as they stormed back for the win
It Was Over When…
Looking to drive the ball down the field for a game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes, Rivers threw a pass to the left sideline intended for Eddie Royal. Mike Adams had inside position on the receiver and stepped in front for the pick six that iced the game.
Play of the Game
Quentin Jammer is an 11-year veteran, but he never had a touchdown until tonight. Manning threw a quick out while the receiver ran a go-pattern, and the ball came directly to Jammer. The cornerback raced up the sideline, dodging Broncos as he rumbled his way into the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown.
Stat of the Game
The 24-0 halftime deficit was the largest overcome by a visiting team in the history of the NFL.
“That’s as tough as it gets. Right now, we’re not able to put together a complete game.” – Head Coach Norv Turner
“Every loss hurts, regardless of what negative plays or how you lose a game. When you lose its rough, especially in a game where you have such a big lead. And so much was at stake.”- Quarterback Philip Rivers
“I don’t understand how it happened. But the tough thing is we’ve got a week to think about it. We need a game to redeem ourselves.” – Linebacker Jarrett Johnson
“We wanted to win. We needed to win the game. And for some reason in the second half, the game flipped on us and it didn’t go the way we wanted it to go.” – Safety Atari Bigby
“This is just like last week. Man, it’s a tale of two halves. It’s what I said coming off the field. We can’t do that. We’ve got to learn from this. We’ve got to. Everyone has to look at themselves in the mirror and see what he can do to get better and help this team win. We have to finish games. Everyone has to get that mindset.” – Fullback Le’Ron McClain
“I thought I felt every emotion there is in this game when you lose, but I’ve never felt like this” – Linebacker Takeo Spikes
Odds and Ends
Philip Rivers six turnovers were a career-high.
The two touchdown passes from Rivers to Gates were the 50th and 51st touchdown connection between the two, the most for any QB-TE tandem.
The Chargers continued to be strong against the run, limiting the Broncos to just 57 yards on the ground.
The only change in the starting lineup was Mike Harris in for Jared Gaither.
The inactives tonight included Nate Kaeding, Brandon Taylor, Shareece Wright, Antonio Garay, Jonas Mouton, Ladarius Green and Gaither.
Tonight was the team’s Breast Cancer Awareness Night. Read