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The third quarter went a little better for the Chargers, as they were able to cut the deficit to 24-16.
The Chargers began the second half with an onside kick, which was recovered by the Bolts. After a Mike Scifres punt was down at the 2-yard line by safety Darrell Stuckey, outside linebacker Shaun Phillips sacked Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the end zone for a safety. That made the score 17-9 in favor of Denver.
Later in the quarter, the Broncos extended their lead to 24-9 when Manning bought some time and hit wide receiver Eric Decker over the middle for a 20-yard touchdown.
On the ensuing possession, Rivers led the offense on an 80-yard touchdown drive, capped by an 8-yard touchdown to wide receiver Danario Alexander to make it 24-16. This is Alexander’s second consecutive week with a touchdown catch; he pulled in an 80-yard touchdown reception against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week.
The Broncos came out firing on all cylinders in the second quarter.
Early on, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning connected with wide receiver Demaryius Thomas in the corner of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. Thomas was initially ruled out of bounds, but after further review, the play was overruled and called a touchdown. The touchdown tied the score at seven and was the 421st touchdown pass of Manning’s career, pushing him past NFL Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino for second all-time.
On the very next play from scrimmage, quarterback Philip Rivers was intercepted by linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who returned it to Chargers’ 8-yard line. Four plays later, Matt Prater connected on a 19-yard field goal to give the Broncos a 10-7 lead. It is the ninth straight game with a giveaway by the Chargers.
Later in the quarter, Chargers linebacker Donald Butler stripped Denver running back Lance Ball, which was recovered by outside linebacker Antwan Barnes. Unfortunately, the Chargers offense, which has struggled all day, was not able to make anything of the turnover.
With about two minutes left in the half, middle linebacker Nate Irving blocked a Mike Scifres punt, which was recovered by Ball on the 31-yard line. On the very next play, Manning threw to wide receiver Brandon Stokley for a 31-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 17-7 at halftime.
Rivers was 9-of-17 passing for 60 yards and one interception, while tight end Ladarius Green leads the Chargers with two catches for 22 yards.
When the San Diego Chargers offense struggled in the first quarter today against the Denver Broncos, the defense picked up the slack.
Free safety Eric Weddle gave the Bolts a 7-0 lead through one quarter of play, as he intercepted a tipped pass from Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and returned it 23 yards to the end zone.
Cornerback Marcus Gilchrist blitzed off the edge and got a hand on the Manning pass, which fell into the arms of Weddle. Weddle grabbed the deflected pass and eluded Manning on his way to the end zone to give San Diego the early 7-0 lead. It was Manning’s first interception in his last 231 pass attempts.
On the ensuing possession, Manning and the Broncos took over on their own 20-yard line and marched to the Chargers’ 37, where Matt Prater attempted a 55-yard field, but hit the left upright to keep the score 7-0.
The Chargers gained 30 yards of total offense in the first quarter, as quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 27 yards on 4-of-8 passing, including a 13-yard pass to tight end Antonio Gates. Running back Ryan Mathews rushed for six yards on two carries and hauled in one reception for nine yards.
It was the first time in 15 quarters that the Broncos did not put points on the board.
The San Diego Chargers (4-5) travel to Mile High Stadium this afternoon to take on the Denver Broncos (6-3). Denver leads the AFC West by two games over the Bolts.
The Chargers, coming off a 34-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, will look to remain in the playoff hunt by relying on wide receiver Danario Alexander, who is expected to get the start again. Alexander had a career-high 134 yards receiving and one touchdown, including an 80-yard touchdown reception, last week.
Running back Ryan Mathews was questionable with a neck injury, but he is active and will start. Mathews has had great success in the past vs. the Broncos, so the Chargers will look to feature him.
Left tackle Jared Gaither will miss the game once again, so rookie Mike Harris will get the start. Aubrayo Franklin, who suffered a deep bone bruise last week against Tampa Bay, will be out for today’s game as well. He is the first defensive starter for the Chargers to miss a game this season.
In addition to Franklin and Gaither, Dante Rosario, Seyi Ajirotutu, Chris Carr, Brandon Taylor and Jonas Mouton are inactive.
Denver, who has won four straight games, will rely on quarterback Peyton Manning, who has been one of the best passers in the league since these two teams met earlier this year. Manning, who ranks fifth in the NFL with 2,705 passing yards, was 27-of-38 for 301 yards and one touchdown in a 36-14 win over the Carolina Panthers last week.
The last time these two teams met in Week 6 at Qualcomm Stadium, the Broncos scored 35 unanswered points to defeat the Chargers 35-24 and grab the first-place lead in the division. The Chargers will try to get back to .500 and pull within one game of them while improving their AFC West record to 4-1.