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There’s a reason why Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium is Philip Rivers’ favorite venue.
He’s 6-2 in Denver after the Bolts toughed out a gritty fourth quarter. On the strength of a big interception by Thomas Keiser and a power running game spearheaded by Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, the Chargers beat the Broncos 27-20.
Manning started the quarter off by returning to form. He hit Eric Decker for a big gain to start the quarter, and completed a bullet pass to Andre Caldwell for a fourth-down conversion. Once in scoring range, Manning found Caldwell again on a receiver screen for a five-yard score.
The Chargers took over on offense and dodged a few bullets in their ball-control attack. In between a near fumble between Mathews and Rivers and a near-fumble by Mike Scifres on the punt, though, they drained four-and-a-half minutes of clock. And to top it all off, Scifres turned a possible error into a big play when he pinned the Broncos deep.
The Bolts defense stood strong three plays later. Manning moved the chains on back-to-back plays, but when he threw again, Corey Liuget was there to disrupt his release. The pass fluttered away from Manning’s hand, arched in the air, and fell to a sliding Thomas Keiser for Manning’s first pick of the game.
That turnover became the Broncos’ undoing. They had to burn all their timeouts as the Bolts rushed behind Mathews and Danny Woodhead to set up a Nick Novak field goal and increase their lead to 10 with just fewer than three minutes left.
The Bolts defense stopped the Broncos from rallying for a touchdown. Matt Prater kicked a 42-yard field goal on 4th down, but Prater’s onside kick was unsuccessful.
The Bolts are 7-7 on the season now. Stay tuned for the latest reaction on Chargers.com. Read
Ryan Mathews took the handoff left, turned the corner, and saw a whole lot of green turf in front of him.
He was almost untouched for his 23-yard touchdown scamper to start the third quarter. The Bolts defense has contained Peyton Manning and the dangerous Broncos offense for 45 minutes, helping to build a 24-10 fourth quarter lead.
John Pagano’s defense is swarming to the ball. After the Mathews touchdown, the group surrendered a first down for the first time in four Broncos possessions, but that was it. Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright came through with a one-two punch of strong defensive plays that forced Manning back to the sideline after holding the ball for only 1:14.
Britton Colquitt pinned the Bolts on their one one-yard line on the ensuing possession. But after the Broncos defense forced a potential three-and-out, their special teams jumped offside and gave Rivers and Co. a fresh set of downs.
With renewed life, the Bolts drove the ball for over seven minutes. And after eating up the majority of the third quarter, they punted back to the Broncos.
They have the ball at their own at their own 26-yard line to start the fourth quarter.
Keenan Allen had a second quarter to remember.
He started the second half off in style by hurdling over Broncos cornerback Kayvon Webster and leaping into the end zone. And as the half came to a close, he shook Webster on a 29-yard corner route to end the quarter and give the Bolts a 17-10 halftime lead over the Broncos.
Allen is now 71 receiving yards away from surpassing John Jefferson’s rookie record.
His first touchdown capped a nine-play scoring drive that kicked the second quarter off. Danny Woodhead kept the march alive by wiggling away from two defenders on an early reception, and the rookie receiver put the exclamation point on the drive by jumping over Webster for six.
The defense did its part on the ensuing drive with a three-and-out that was nearly worse for Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Eric Weddle went airborne to tip a Manning pass on second down. On third down, Manning’s deep throw for Andre Caldwell was nearly caught by Shareece Wright.
The Bolts couldn’t turn their next possession into points, but backed up the Broncos again with a booming Mike Scrifres punt. But Marcus Gilchrist gave the ball right back to Philip Rivers and the offense by sacking Peyton Manning on third down – the first time Manning’s been dropped in 126 attempts.
Rivers was in two-minute mode from there and the quarterback made it look easy by throwing to Allen for his second score.
The Broncos went three-and-out for the third straight time to end the half, and the Bolts will get the second half kickoff.
Just keep moving the chains in Denver.
Philip Rivers and the Bolts offense sandwiched a long scoring drive between two first-quarter scores by Peyton Manning and Co. The Broncos scored a touchdown to open the game, but settled for a field goal on their second possession, and the Bolts are on the march again to try to erase their 10-3 deficit
Manning found two familiar targets on the game’s opening drive. He completed four passes to Demaryius and Julius Thomas to drive the ball into Bolts’ territory. Then, he threw to the corner of the end zone for Andre Caldwell on a 15-yard touchdown toss.
Rivers and the Bolts promptly responded. The ten-year veteran quarterback connected on a pretty back-shoulder throw to Vincent Brown. A few plays later, he read the oncoming blitz, sidestepped Von Miller, and hit Antonio Gates for a chains-moving completion.
He nearly connected on his following third down throw, but Allen broke to the middle of the field and Rivers threw to the back pylon of the end zone. After a rare miscommunication between the two, Novak booted a 38-yarder.
Reggie Walker stymied the Broncos on their next possession with a big defensive stop. He burst through the Broncos offensive line and slammed into Montee Ball for a six-yard loss that set the opposition back.
Matt Prater eventually kicked a field goal, but after Rivers scrambled for another first down, the Bolts are back in business to start the second quarter.
Tonight, the Bolts and Broncos take the national stage for another rendition of their heated rivalry.
A nationally-televised Thursday night clash pits the San Diego Chargers (6-7) against the AFC West-leading Denver Broncos (11-2) tonight at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. The match is the first of three consecutive divisional games to end the season for the Bolts. Kick-off is set for 5:25PM PST.
Tonight’s pivotal game can provide another showcase for Philip Rivers and the high-octane Chargers offense. Coming off an outstanding one-punt effort last week, Rivers leads an attack that is rewriting the club’s records. He needs just 118 pass yards to eclipse the 4,000-yard mark for the fifth time in his ten-year career. Rivers is completing over 70 percent of his throws this season and will play in a building where he’s 5-2 all-time.
More offensive options have emerged since the Broncos took the first matchup at Qualcomm Stadium. Trusted veterans like Danny Woodhead and Antonio Gates are now complimented by evolving stars like Ladarius Green and Keenan Allen. And when Rivers doesn’t take to the skies, Ryan Mathews has proved to be an equally-dangerous option as the leader of the Bolts’ rushing attack.
Behind the arm of Peyton Manning, the Broncos became just the fifth team in NFL history to score 50 points in three different games during a season. Manning already has the fifth-most touchdown passes in a season (45) in league history, but he’s also armed with the knowledge he gained from the first meeting last month. The Bolts defense should keep an eye on any player with “Thomas” on the back of their jersey. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas caught three Manning passes for touchdowns in the last game, and tight end Julius Thomas took another throw 80 yards for a fourth Manning touchdown.
Inactives for the Chargers include: Brad Sorensen, Lavelle Hawkins, Johnny Patrick, Brandon Taylor, Steve Schilling, Kenny Wiggins and Kwame Geathers.
Stay tuned to Chargers.com for all the latest updates and analysis from Bolts-Broncos. ReadRead