The Chargers fell to the Broncos, 23-20, Sunday in Denver. The AFC West clash was filled with drama in the final moments, ending on a field goal with time expiring by Brandon McManus.
On fourth and one of the game's first series, safety Adrian Phillips tackled Broncos tight end Noah Fant one yard shy of the first-down marker, completing the three-and-out. It was Phillips' first game since his Week 2 injury in Detroit, and he finished with four total tackles Sunday.
After the Bolts' first drive ended in a punt, Drew Lock threw his first career touchdown on a one-handed 25-yard diving snag by wide receiver Courtland Sutton. The extra point gave the Broncos a 7-0 lead with 4:33 in the first quarter.
Denver then got the ball back four plays later after Philip Rivers was intercepted by defensive end Dre'Mont Jones. The Broncos turned the takeaway into points, as Lock threw a second touchdown to Sutton, a 5-yarder, with 16 seconds remaining in the quarter. McManus tacked on the point after to extend Denver's lead to 14-0.
On the ensuing drive, Ty Long went out to punt for the Chargers, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Bolts a first down at Denver's 44-yard line. On third and seven, Rivers found running back Austin Ekeler for a 15-yard gain to the Broncos' 28. Rivers then fired a 16-yard dart to wide receiver Keenan Allen for a second-consecutive first down pass.
Kicker Michael Badgley capped the possession with a 30-yard field goal to cut the Bolts' deficit to 11 points at 14-3 with 9:27 to play in the half.
After the Bolts forced the Broncos' second three-and-out of the game, Troymaine Pope dropped the punt, and Denver recovered on the Chargers' 24-yard line. The Bolts defense then limited Denver to a 31-yard field goal that increased the Broncos' lead back to 14 points, 17-3, with 5:32 in the half.
Los Angeles could not score on its following possession, and neither could Denver.
Beginning at his own 23-yard line with 52 seconds left in the half, Rivers hit a wide-open Mike Williams for a 52-yard reception, Williams' third 50-plus-yard and fifth 40-plus-yard reception of the season.
On Rivers' next pass, he floated a short pass to Ekeler that the running back ran in for a 30-yard touchdown.
It took the Chargers just three plays and 22 seconds to travel 77 yards on the drive. Badgley added the extra point to bring the Bolts within seven at 17-10.
With one second on the clock, Broncos head coach Vin Fangio elected not to have McManus attempt a would-be NFL record 65-yard field goal. Lock instead completed a pass to Sutton at the Chargers' 19, bringing the game to halftime.
The Chargers stormed to the Broncos' 30 to begin the half, but a third-down sack took them out of field-goal range and resulted in a punt.
The Bolts defense then would have stopped Denver for their third three-and-out of the game, but Drue Tranquill was called for roughing the kicker, which resulted in a Broncos first down. Three plays later, however, defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa combined to tackle Phillip Lindsay for a three-yard loss to force a punt.
After the Bolts failed to score on their seven-play drive, the Chargers defense recorded another defensive three-and-out.
To begin the fourth quarter, Ekeler caught an 11-yard pass, which was then followed by an 11-yard run by running back Melvin Gordon.
Two plays later, Rivers hit a wide-open Allen, who flipped into the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown with 12:18 to play in the contest.
Badgley's extra point knotted the game at 17 points apiece.
On the Broncos' second play of their drive, Lock committed his first career turnover on a diving interception by linebacker Denzel Perryman, his first pick of the season.
After Rivers was sacked on third down, Badgley narrowly missed a 55-yard field goal attempt off the left crossbar.
Denver then took the lead, 20-17, with a 52-yarder by McManus, with 4:31 remaining on the game clock.
On fourth and 11 on the Chargers' 24 and 2:22 to play, after consecutive false start penalties, head coach Anthony Lynn decided to go for it, and Rivers completed a 38-yard pass to a leaping Williams, advancing the Bolts' to the Denver's 38-yard line. Williams made the incredible catch with his left hand and finished the game with a career-high 115 yards receiving on five receptions.
With fourth and inches, Lynn elected to go for a game-tying field goal, and Badgley rewarded his coach's confidence with a perfect game-tying 46-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in regulation.
On the Broncos' first play after the kickoff, the Chargers committed defensive pass interference on a deep ball, which led to a game-winning 53-yard field goal with time expiring.
In the loss, Gordon eclipsed 4,000 yards rushing in his career, running for 99 yards on 20 carries on the day. Pro Bowl second-year safety Derwin James started his first game of the season in his return from injury, finishing with four tackles, including one for a loss.
In Lock's NFL debut, he passed for 134 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, completing 18-of-28 passes. Rivers also threw a pair of touchdowns and an interception, passing for 265 yards and a 106.2 passer rating, his highest rating since Week 9 against the Packers.
The Chargers fell to 4-8 and next head to Jacksonville to face the 4-8 Jaguars. Kickoff will take place next Sunday at 1:05 PT from TIAA Bank Field.
Browse through live action photos from Week 13 as the Chargers take on the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High.