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Denver Downs Chargers in Key AFC West Clash
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There was a lot at stake as the Chargers visited Sports Authority Field at Mile High to take on the AFC West leading Denver Broncos. Unfortunately, the Bolts couldn’t come away with a win as they were defeated 30-23.
The Chargers and Broncos exchanged punts three times to start the game before the Chargers defense came up with a big play. On a first down, Marcus Gilchrist batted a Peyton Manning ball straight up into the air that Eric Weddle grabbed and ran 23-yards for the pick six. The Broncos drove the ball down the field but the Chargers defense managed to hold Denver to a long 55-yard field goal attempt that bounced off the left upright. At the end of the first quarter, the Chargers led 7-0.
Unfortunately, things took a dramatic swing in the second quarter as the Broncos scored 17 points to take a 17-7 lead. A couple of big blunders by the Bolts proved to be their undoing as Philip Rivers threw an interception deep in the Chargers own territory while the team also gave up a blocked punt for the second straight game.
Manning and the Broncos were supposed to receive the ball to start the second half, but the Chargers made a gutsy call going for an onside kick. Nick Novak hit the ball straight up the middle and Darrell Stuckey came up with the loose ball. After another three-and-out, Mike Scifres hit a perfect punt to back the Broncos up at their own two-yard line. Two plays later, Shaun Phillips came up with a big play, sacking Manning in the end zone for a safety. With the score now 17-9, both teams exchanged three-and-outs. Ryan Mathews broke out a couple strong runs and the team seemed to be building a rhythm when Von Miller had another strip sack of Rivers. The Broncos recovered the ball and returned it to the San Diego 25-yard line. The home team capitalized three plays later as Eric Decker had a 20-yard touchdown grab and run to extend the lead to 24-9. The Chargers responded with their best drive of the game, methodically moving the ball down field culminating with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Rivers to Danario Alexander. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Bolts trailed 24-16.
Denver drove the ball down for a 30-yard field goal to kick off the final 15 minutes, extending their lead to 27-16. The Chargers got the ball across mid-field, but on 4th-and-14, Rivers threw a desperation ball as he was being brought down that was intercepted by Jim Leonhard. The Broncos took five minutes off the clock as they marched down field for another field goal, extending the lead to 30-16. In hurry up mode, Rivers marched the team down the field and hit Alexander for 21 yards and his second touchdown of the game. Down by just a touchdown, the team went for an onside kick but were unable to recover it as the Broncos went on to win 30-23.
San Diego trailed by just three points, 10-7, when Mike Scifres dropped back to punt with 2:00 to go in the first half. Then, for the second time in two games, the Chargers allowed a blocked punt as the Broncos’ Nate Irving bust throughout the middle. Denver took over at the 31-yard line, and on the very first play from scrimmage, Peyton Manning hit Brandon Stokely in the end zone for a 17-7 lead. With the Chargers offense struggling all day, San Diego was never able to recover as they went on to drop the game, 30-23.
It Was Over When…
It was desperation mode for the Chargers after they managed to pull within seven points with 1:24 remaining in the game. Forced to go for an onside kick, the Bolts were unable to recover as the ball went straight into the arms of the Broncos’ Virgil Green. The Chargers would eventually get the ball back with 24 seconds in the game, but it wasn’t enough time to drive the length of the field.
Play of the Game
Peyton Manning made a quick throw on a 1st-and-10 that Marcus Gilchrist read the whole way. Gilchrist tipped it straight in the air and Eric Weddle came down with it. The All-Pro safety raced and weaved his way 23 yards for a touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.
Stat of the Game
The Chargers second ranked run defense allowed an uncharacteristic 133 yards on the ground, compared to just 53 rushed for by their own offense.
“Denver I think is an outstanding football team. I think they’re probably as complete a team as we’ve played in terms of all three phases.” – Head Coach Norv Turner
“It’s tough. We treat them all like they are must win, but we knew what was at stake this week. They’re a good team.” – Quarterback Philip Rivers
“I don’t know why we started out like we did. For myself, I felt real slow in the first half and I picked it up in the second half. They threw some different things at us that kind of twisted our game plan up. We responded in the second half but it wasn’t enough.” – Wide Receiver Malcom Floyd
“Today, we weren’t the San Diego Chargers that we normally could be. We’ve been struggling the past couple of weeks. Fortunately, we still have the right guys in this locker room and the right coaching staff to get it done. And we definitely believe it.” –Tight End Antonio Gates
Odds and Ends
Danario Alexander scored for the second straight game, this time catching two touchdowns from Philip Rivers.
The Broncos converted 21 first downs compared to 13 by San Diego.
The Chargers allowed a blocked punt for the second game in a row.
Denver outgained San Diego 386 to 277.
There were two changes to the starting lineup: Mike Harris at left tackle for Jared Gaither and Cam Thomas for Aubrayo Franklin
The inactives today included Seyi Ajirotutu, Brandon Taylor, Chris Carr, Gaither, Franklin, Jonas Mouton and Dante Rosario.