Coming into Thursday Night Football’s matchup between the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers at Mile High Stadium, Head Coach Mike McCoy and the Chargers were geared up to show the rest of the NFL that they were a force to be reckoned with after a three point loss to division rival Kansas City Chiefs. But they had won five in a row prior to that loss over such playoff mainstays as the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders (insert sarcasm here). But QB Peyton Manning was set to continue the Broncos’ winning ways and when the Professor sets his mind to something during the regular season, it’s a rarity to see him coming up short. Fans could see this was going to be a high scoring affair from the very beginning and it wasn’t long after a Chargers three and out that Manning and company scored on a hookup with diminutive dynamo WR Emmanuel Sanders in the 2nd quarter. The Chargers would respond with a 13 play, 84 yard drive that resulted in a 2 yard touchdown catch by WR Keenan Allen.
Denver responded with another strike to Sanders for a 31 yard touchdown. Things looked fairly positive for the Chargers going into the second half and they got the ball first, but QB Philip Rivers would proceed to throw an interception. Like a shark sensing helpless pray, the Broncos’ offense would score again with a third touchdown pass from Manning to Sanders. Following that score, San Diego would be forced to punt after an uneventful three and out, and the Broncos would in turn march down the field on a 5 play, 61 yard drive that resulted in a touchdown pass to RB Juwan Thompson after an interception by CB Eric Weddle was overturned.
The three touchdown lead seemed nearly insurmountable but the Chargers still had some fight left. A defensive holding call on Denver’s B. Roby on 3rd and 1 would keep San Diego’s drive alive, resulting in a touchdown from Philip Rivers to TE Antonio Gates. Chargers fans likely believed there was still a chance to come back heading into the 4th quarter, but RB Juwan Thompson would put all that to rest with a 1 yard touchdown plunge. Another Rivers to Gates touchdown with around 10 minutes left in the game made it seem a little more manageable for San Diego, but an ill-advised deep pass attempt from Rivers for Michael Floyd was picked off by CB R. Moore and the game was pretty much a wrap after that.
Peyton Manning would finish with 286 yards and 3 touchdowns, WR Emmanuel Sanders would explode for 120 yards and 3 touchdowns while RB R. Hillman kept the Chargers defense honest with 20 carries for 109 yards. WR Demaryius Thomas continues to dominate after a slow start, chipping in 105 yards. But it was the Broncos’ defense that was the difference maker. LB Brandon Marshall would finish with 10 tackles, LB Von Miller would get a sack and CB Chris Harris and FS Rahim Moore would each secure interceptions. Philip Rivers would finish with 252 yards, 3 touchdowns and two interceptions and TE Antonio Gates would finish with 54 yards and two touchdowns. Two other players would finish with over 50 yards each, but San Diego’s running game was nonexistent. Next week, the Denver Broncos (6-1) are heading into Gillette Stadium for a highly-anticipated midseason matchup against the New England Patriots while the Chargers (5-3) look for a much needed victory against the Miami Dolphins.
One great note for the Chargers- TE Antonio Gates set a new all-time San Diego Chargers record for receptions during the game.