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Chargers-Broncos Final Score: San Diego Chargers defeat Denver Broncos 21-13

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The Broncos traveled to San Diego without their head coach on a short week to take on the ailing Chargers. The first half went San Diego’s way, but the second half was more difficult.

NFL: Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

First Quarter

The first play of the game was an incomplete pass to a wide open Antonio Gates. It looked like a bad omen, but the drive actually ended in points. Travis Benjamin took a short pass 8 yards on 2nd down, and Gates converted his second chance into a 1st down. A front shoulder throw to Tyrell Williams down the sideline picked up 18. On 2nd & 14, Hunter Henry caught a short pass and ran with it to the tune of a 27 yard gain. Two plays later Rivers and Henry connected again for a touchdown from the 5.

Trevor Siemian and the Broncos took the field and got off to a quick start. He found Emmanuel Sanders for 6 yards and handed off to C.J. Anderson for another 6. The defense stiffened then stopping Anderson for no gain and forcing an incomplete pass before holding to a 9-yard gain on 3rd & 10.

Rivers and co. took over again at their own 6. Von Miller chipped in with an offside penalty to set up a 2nd & 2 which Melvin Gordon picked up easily. Another big play by Hunter Henry got the Chargers to midfield. Benjamin came up big on a 3rd & 5 from the Denver 48.

Second Quarter

The drive eventually stalled out the 19 even after converting a 4th down. Josh Lambo converted the attempt from 37 yards.

The Broncos offense managed six plays and never crossed the 50-yard line before punting. Thanks to a bonehead play by Benjamin who allowed the ball to hit him, the Broncos got the ball back at the San Diego 11. They went three-and-out before trying a 29-yard field goal.

The Chargers offense responded with a three-and-out of their own and then the Broncos returned the favor. Not to be outdone, the Chargers did the same. The half ended after the Broncos’ third play of their next drive.

Third Quarter

Apparently still thinking it was the end of the second quarter, Siemian and the Broncos went three-and-out yet again.

Getting the ball back near midfield, the Chargers handed off to Melvin Gordon who broke off a 48-yard run to the Denver 6. From there, they picked gained 4 yards on a pass to Williams before Gordon lost a yard and then Rivers threw an incomplete pass to Griff Whalen. Josh Lambo turned it into three points.

This time, the Broncos picked up a 1st down on their second play from scrimmage, but on their fourth Korey Toomer stripped Jordan Taylor and Toomer recovered the ball on the Denver 20.

Unfortunately, the Chargers could not capitalize. Gordon rushed twice for a total of two yards before Dexter McCluster was stopped short of the sticks on 3rd & 8. Lambo got the call again and converted a 31-yard field goal.

Tenny Palepoi and Joey Bosa applied pressure on 1st & 2nd down respectively forcing incomplete passes on borderline throwaways. Former Charger John Phillips picked up 5 yards on 3rd & 10.

Another nice 15-yard catch by Henry and a helpful roughing the passer penalty by Derek Wolfe helped move the Chargers into Denver territory. On 3rd & 11, Aqib Talib chipped in with a defensive pass interference that set up a 1st & 10 from the 20.

It’s rare that you can start with a two-score lead, have two scoring drives, and still only be up by two scores, but all things field goal related are possible with Mike McCoy on the sideline.

Melvin Ingram whiffed on a tackle in the backfield and Devontae Booker turned it into 17 yards. Siemian then found Booker for another 5 yards on a short pass. Booker, again, broke off a nice run, this one was up the middle for 16. Jordan Norwood then took a short pass 7 yards. Anderson ran for 15 on the next play, but a hold by Matt Paradis brought it back. Thanks to the penalty, the defense was able to get off the field. Brandon McManus then missed wide right giving the Chargers the ball back near midfield.

Fourth Quarter

“Mike McCoy did not hesitate to send in the punting unit.” - Phil Simms

An excellent Kaser punt that pinned the Broncos inside the 5 and a holding penalty in the end zone increased the Chargers’ lead to 21-3. Kenny Wiggins then tried to field the free kick and fumbled. Of course, that happened.

Denver’s offensive line clearly did not want to win, though. They contributed to the Chargers’ cause with a hold and a false start. Emmanuel Sanders is a competitor, though, and he picked up 20 yards across the deep middle on 3rd & 14. Two C.J. Anderson runs of 9 and 7 yards respectively put the Broncos into the red zone. Bennie Fowler, of all people, finished the drive off with a 5-yard touchdown reception.

Some things defy explanation. With an 11 point lead and 8:08 on the clock, it definitely felt like the Chargers were going to find a way to lose.

The Chargers “responded” by going three-and-out including a big-time sack on 3rd down.

The Broncos appeared to be well on their way to scoring again, but it was not to be. Completed passes to Sanders, Fowler, and Phillips ate up 32 yards of field. Anderson added 11 more on the ground. Another holding penalty on the Broncos erased a 20-yard touchdown reception by Anderson. Jatavis Brown then buried Siemian to set up 2nd & 30. Brown was not done, though. On the next play, he forced a fumble on a great hit in the middle of the field.

Two Melvin Gordon runs had the Chargers staring at 3rd & 6, but an offside penalty gave them an opportunity to ice the game by picking up one yard. They could not do it.

Needing two scores and having no timeouts left, the Broncos started their drive from their own 16. Pagano’s defense was content to keep everything in front of them and force Denver to burn clock. It worked, and Brandon McManus was forced to try a long field goal that he converted.

With 27 seconds left, the Broncos lined up to attempt an onside kick. McCoy called a timeout for some reason. Of course, the Broncos recovered. The Broncos worked methodically down the field before ending up with a 4th & 1 on the Chargers 45 with 8 seconds left.