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Denver Broncos Defeat San Diego Chargers 34-23

I think that's exactly the game that I wasn't hoping for.  The Chargers came out against the Broncos and played very well, but it wasn't enough.  So now they'll run off a string of victories against lesser opponents, and they'll probably still be looking in at the playoffs from the outside at the end of the season.

Kyle Orton and Philip Rivers both had outstanding games, but the difference was with pressure.  The Broncos blitzed incessantly and had Rivers running all night.  They ended up bringing him down 5 times.  Orton, on the other hand, had all day to throw and ended up being sacked only once (by Larry English) on a play where he should've thrown the ball away.

The Chargers fumbled the ball four times during the game, but recovered it all but one time.  With Brian Dawkins out, the Bolts offense could not be stopped.  When he came back in the second half, and with Denver's knack for second-half adjustments, the game was all but over.  After taking a 20-17 lead into halftime, the Chargers lost the second half by a score of 17-3.  That's not going to cut it.

There were a few positive to come out of the game.  Antonio Cromartie had his best game of the year and Kevin Ellison looked like he belonged out there.  The defensive line probably had it's best game without Jamal Williams, but they still need help.  LaDainian Tomlinson looked good (3.8 YPC) and healthy.

This is the team everyone was hoping to see in 2009.  Not only did they show up late, the level of competition has risen so much higher in the AFC West than anybody expected that they probably showed up too late.