The San Diego Chargers fell to 4-12 on the season with a 27-20 loss to the Denver Broncos. The Broncos struck first on the second play of the game when Brock Osweiler hit Demaryius Thomas for a 72-yard catch-and-run touchdown. However, the Chargers assembled a solid drive that ended in three points on their first possession of the game. It looked like the Broncos were ready to score again, but Steve Williams forced a fumble on Emanuel Sanders which Williams recovered down at the San Diego five. Although the Bolts didn't get anything going after the turnover, it was Williams again who picked Osweiler off on the Broncos' ensuing possession. Williams kept up his high level of play after a strip-sack on Osweiler for a loss of eight that defensive tackle Damion Square recovered. The Chargers' defense continued to dominate the Broncos offense in the first half as Adrian Phillips picked Osweiler off and returned it 39 yards for the team's fourth turnover of the day. The Bolts scored three off the turnover as Lambo nailed a 42-yard field goal to make it 7-6, Denver.
Manti Te'o forced the Bolts' defense's fifth turnover of the day as he dislodged a ball from the arms of C.J. Anderson. The Bolts were able to score points off the turnover, as Rivers connected with Gates for the offense's first touchdown of the day and a 13-6 lead. In the middle of the third quarter, Peyton Manning entered at quarterback for the Broncos. Unfortunately for the Chargers, their lead didn't last long as the Broncos took a 14-13 advantage after a one-yard score by Anderson. Broncos' kicker Brandon McManus tagged on three to his team's lead after he made a 48-yard field goal. The Chargers answered quickly with an 80-yard score from Rivers to Tyrell Williams for the rookie's first NFL catch and touchdown, and just like that, it was 20-17, San Diego. The Broncos drove downfield in seven plays and tied the score with a 35-yard field goal by McManus. The Bolts turned the ball over for the first time of the day and Denver turned it into six on the next play as Ronnie Hillman took it into the end zone for the 23-yard score and 27-20 lead. The Chargers tried to surmount a comeback but it was stopped short after they turned the ball over on downs. A first down with 90 seconds left inked the game for the Broncos who then took a series of knees to run the clock out.
"If that game doesn't summarize our season, I don't know what does. I'm so proud of this football team (and) the way they fought." – Head Coach Mike McCoy
"We have character guys. That's the kind of team we have here. We fought until the end, we practiced hard. We always bring our lunch pail to work, that's how we do it. It's just unfortunate the season went this way." – CB Steve Williams
"One thing I know, all we dealt with offensively with injuries on offensive line or receiver, as many times as we've thrown it and as few of times as we've been sacked in relation to that…I'm as healthy as I've been in Week 17 of any year I can remember. That's just a credit to how much they fight, how much they care and how well they prepare. So considering all the shuffling, I appreciate those guys fighting like they did."* – QB Philip Rivers*
"It was the last game, we just wanted to finish strong. We took it upon ourselves as a defense to go out there and finish strong. We got a lot of turnovers and I wish it would have helped us out in the game (more), but we came up short." – ILB Denzel Perryman
Stat of the Game
The defense's four turnovers in the first half were the most since they notched five against the Chiefs in September 2012.
Odds and Ends
The Broncos outgained the Chargers 503 to 317 yards. They held advantages through the air and on the ground with 293 to 207 passing yards and 210 to 110 yards rushing.
Philip Rivers finished the game completing 21 of 35 passes with 228-yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Donald Brown led the rushing attack for the Chargers with 21 carries for 81 yards.
Danny Woodhead led all receivers with eight receptions. Tyrell Williams' 80-yard touchdown was the longest catch of the day.
Manti Te'o led the defense with nine total tackles. Steve Williams notched six, along with one sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery. Additionally, he had one pass defensed and an interception.
Inactives for the Chargers include: Stevie Johnson, Jason Verrett, Asante Cleveland, Kavell Conner, Orlando Franklin, King Dunlap, Sean McGrath.
14:41 – On the second snap of the game, Brock Osweiler hit Demaryius Thomas, who made one man miss and weaved 72 yards between defenders to stake the Broncos to a 7-0 lead.
13:46 – Danny Woodhead took a quick pass from Philip Rivers and turned upfield for a gain of 11 to set a new career-high in yards gained from scrimmage in a single season.
13:15 – The Bolts called a reverse to Javontee Herndon, who gained 13 yards near midfield.
11:58 – Rivers dropped back and connected with Antonio Gates on 3rd-and-8 to move the chains with a gain of 12.
10:15 – After Woodhead couldn't corral a short pass on 3rd-and-2, Josh Lambo blasted a 50-yard field goal with plenty of room to spare to cut the lead to 7-3.
10:10 – Ronnie Hillman gained 13 yards off left tackle to jumpstart the ensuing drive.
8:34 – Steve Williams never gave up on a 46-yard catch and run by Emanuel Sanders, stripping him as Jahleel Addae stood up the WR. The cornerback pounced on the loose ball to give the Bolts possession at their own five.
7:09 – The Chargers went three-and-out as Rivers' pass for Dontrelle Inman sailed over the wide receiver's head.
6:41 – Thomas hauled in a 14-yard pass over the middle on 3rd-and-10 to give Denver a first down at midfield.
4:55 – Williams logged his second turnover of the quarter as he picked off Osweiler on 3rd-and-1, returning it five yards to the SD 37.
3:34 – Donald Brown snuck through a small opening on 3rd-and-1 to get just enough to for a fresh set of downs.
1:48 – Launching deep for Gates on 3rd-and-4, the future Hall of Fame tight end couldn't make the acrobatic snare as the Chargers had to punt.
0:52 – Osweiler connected with Jordan Norwood deep downfield on 3rd-and-5 for a 34-yard gain.
14:27 – The Steve Williams show continued as the cornerback blasted Osweiler from behind for a strip-sack. The ball bounced on the turf and Damion Square recovered to give the Bolts possession at their own 29.
13:28 – Scifres had to trot back out to punt after Rivers couldn't connect with Malcom Floyd on third down. He unleashed a 53-yard punt that Norwood returned nine yards to the Denver 23.
12:09 – Owen Daniels was able to wiggle free over the middle to caught a 15-yard pass on a crossing pattern on 3rd-and-4.
10:51 – Manti Te'o and Darius Philon snuffed out the screen pass to drop C.J. Anderson for a five-yard loss, leading to an eventual punt.
7:46 – The Chargers had another three-and-out after Rivers was sacked for an eight-yard loss on 3rd-and-2 by Derek Wolfe.
7:02 – Starting at safety, Adrian Phillips picked off Osweiler and returned it 39 yards to the Denver 28 for the first interception by a Chargers safety this season
5:56 – Lambo trimmed the Broncos' lead to 7-6 on a 42-yard field goal after the offense couldn't pick up a first down.
5:52 – Denzel Perryman tracked Hillman across the line of scrimmage and dropped him for a two-yard loss on first down.
4:28 – Under duress by Jahleel Addae, Osweiler misfired on 3rd-and-10 as the Broncos had to punt away.
3:33 – Rivers hit Gates for a nine yard gain on 2nd-and-7 to put the Bolts at midfield.
1:10 – The drive stalled after a holding penalty on first down backed the Bolts up, forcing Scifres to punt for the fifth time this half.
13:43 – On 3rd-and-3, Rivers hit Woodhead for a gain of eight to move the chains for the Chargers.
11:31 – Te'o poked a ball loose from the hands of C.J. Anderson and Jahleel Addae pounced on it for the recovery for San Diego.
11:23 – Brown shook tacklers for a run good for 20. But on the next play, Rivers was sacked by Von Miller for a loss of eight.
8:27 – Rivers hit Gates who backpedaled in the end zone for a 13-yard score and the Bolts' first lead of the day.
8:18 – Peyton Manning entered at quarterback for the Broncos and handed off to Hillman for a gain of six.
6:45 – Anderson rushed up the left side for a gain of 27.
5:49 – It appeared Anderson shook his way into the end zone for an 18-yard score, but the call on the field was reversed and the running back was ruled down at the one.
5:38 – Another Anderson touchdown was reversed after it was determined that the back's knee was down prior to crossing the plane bringing up a 2nd-and-goal for Denver.
5:29 – Third time was the charm for Anderson as he barreled through for a one-yard score.
2:47 – Woodhead took in a pass from Rivers and moved into Denver territory on a 16-yard gain.
:34 – On 4th-and-3 from the Denver 38, Woodhead couldn't corral a pass from Rivers and the Bolts turned the ball over on downs.
14:28 – Manning launched to Thomas for a gain of 16 to the San Diego 30.
13:51 – Sanders took off before the ball was snapped and forced the Broncos into a false start.
13:17 – Manning's pass was batted down by Melvin Ingram bringing up a field goal attempt.
13:13 – Brandon McManus' 48yard field goal was good as he kicked the Broncos to a 17-13 lead.
PLAY OF THE GAME13:09 – Rivers lobbed a pass to a wide open Tyrell Williams who took it into the end zone for an 80-yard score. The touchdown was the rookie's first NFL catch and score.
12:58 – Manning connected with Sanders for a quick gain of 18. On the next play, the pair synced up again for an additional gain of 15.
12:01 – Hillman rushed up the right side for 23 yards.
10:25 – After a Chargers defender jumped offside, Te'o stuffed Anderson behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of one to bring up a field goal try.
9:48 – McManus tied the score 20-20 with a 35-yard field goal.
8:36 – Woodhead was stopped short of the sticks on third down and Scifres came on to punt.
7:41 – Ingram forced a Denver punt after tackling Manning at the line of scrimmage.
6:32 – Herndon couldn't corral a punt but Adrian Phillips recovered the ball for the Bolts.
5:04 – Shiloh Keo picked off Rivers and returned the ball 22 yards to the San Diego 23.
TURNING POINT4:50 – Hillman rushed off right tackle for a 23-yard score. With a good PAT, Denver regained the lead 27-20.
4:03 – Dontrelle Inman took in a Rivers' pass to move the chains for the Chargers.
1:47 – On 4th-and-6, Rivers' pass fell incomplete and the Bolts turned the ball over on downs.
1:34 – Anderson took the ball off the right guard for a gain of three to bring up third down.
IT WAS OVER WHEN1:30 – Anderson broke through multiple tacklers for the first down and Manning took two knees to end the game.