Chargers shock Broncos Thursday night in Denver
This game featured two of the top three quarterbacks in passing yards this season entering week 14: Peyton Manning (4,522) and Philip Rivers (3,882). Both offenses were ranked in the top five in total offense: Denver (1) and San Diego (4).
We all know Peyton Manning is deadly with every snap he takes during the game. The Chargers used the best strategy to contain him…limit his time on the field. This doesn’t always work, just ask the Miami Dolphins. In 2009, Miami used their running game and held Manning’s Colts to under 15 minutes time of possession on offense and still lost 27-23 that year.
Fast forward to this Chargers-Broncos game. San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt decided to play a more grind it out, old-fashioned style of football. It worked.
The Chargers successfully ran the ball 44 times for a total of 177 yards, including 127 yards by Ryan Matthews. The Broncos didn’t fare nearly as well on the ground. They had 11 rushing plays for 18 yards total. San Diego led Denver in time of possession 38:49-21:11.
The Broncos started off very well in the first quarter with a Manning touchdown to Andre Caldwell on their first possession. Caldwell was important taking over for Wes Welker who was recovering from a concussion. Chargers had a decent drive as well but sputtered a bit and kicked a field goal. After that, you probably thought this would be the same story as usual with teams trying to keep pace with Denver’s high-octane offense. The score was 10-3 Broncos at the end of the first quarter.
The Chargers used efficient passing from Philip Rivers to throw two touchdowns passes to Keenan Allen. The momentum seemed to have changed on the first Allen TD catch where he hurdled over rookie cornerback Kayvon Webster and ran through strong safety Mike Adams to reach the goal line. Picking on Webster was a common theme for San Diego’s offense as both of Allen’s TDs were against him. Chargers now led 17-10 at halftime.
Rivers only threw the ball 20 times in this game for 166 yards. Both numbers are well below his season average, but when you’re running the ball so well, why argue?
The third quarter was capitalized by Ryan Matthews’ 23-yard touchdown run. Another factor in the Broncos loss was penalties. Denver had 6 penalties for 43 yards. The most costly one probably came with 8:48 left in the third quarter. The Chargers were about to punt from deep in their own endzone when Nate Irving of Denver’s defense committed a neutral zone infraction and gave San Diego a new set of downs. They proceeded to burn over seven minutes before punting again.