Nick Novak kicked off to start the game and Brendan Langley returned it 12 yards to the Denver 9-yard line. Anderson got the first touch of the game and went for 3 yards before he was tackled by Kyle Emanuel and Korey Toomer. Anderson got the call again on 2nd down and picked up another 3. On 3rd & 4, Siemian found his tight end deep down the field for 23 yards, but Adrian Phillips who was beaten on the play forced a fumble. Jatavis Brown recovered to give the Chargers the ball.
The Chargers’ first play from scrimmage was in Denver territory and Rivers connected with Henry fr 34 yards on a short catch and long run. Rivers’ next pass was incomplete intended for Allen and he looked for Henry again on 2nd down in the end zone. Defensive pass interference gave them 1st & goal from the 1. Melvin Gordon got the call four times and was stopped short of the goal line each time.
After the offense failed to do anything with the turnover, the defense returned to the field. They forced a 3rd & 7 but allowed Siemian to scramble for a 1st down. The defense held strong, though, and forced a punt after they tackled Jamaal Charles for a loss on 3rd & 1. Dixon came on to punt and his 46-yard effort was returned 65 yards to pay dirt by Travis Benjamin. It was his first punt return touchdown as a Charger.
The defense was even more impressive on the next drive as they forced a three-and-out. Dixon’s next punt was not returnable.
The offense was still unable to move the ball, though, and promptly went three-and-out.
The Broncos offense looked like it might be more effective this time as Siemian connected with Demaryius Thomas for 13 yards on 1st down. That was all they would do on the drive, however, as three plays later Dixon was punting again. This punt, a 46-yarder was returnable and Benjamin picked up 20 yards.
The offense was no more effective this time as they put up yet another three-and-out. Kaser’s punt, at least, netted 50 yards.
Protecting a 14-0 lead, the defense had given up two third down conversions (one by way of a questionable personal foul call against Melvin Ingram. Then, Chris McCain chased Trevor Siemian down from behind to force a fumble on a 3-yard sack. Damion Square recovered.
The offense took over with about four minutes left in the half and looking to add on before half time. The drive did not start well. Keenan Allen was targeted over the middle but was unable to come away with the reception. Then, Philip Rivers was flagged for delay of game. Melvin Gordon was stopped for a short gain on the following play. Austin Ekeler was stopped behind the line of scrimmage on 3rd & 14 after catching a short pass. Having run about a minute of the clock, the offense ceded the field to the punting unit. Drew Kaser’s punt was returnable and netted only 31 yards.
Casey Hayward was tested on the first play of the drive and Siemian was unable to complete the pass. C.J. Anderson was open on the next play, but he dropped the ball. On 3rd & 10, Siemian tried to scramble for the 1st down, but he was tackled short of the line to gain. Travis Benjamin was given the chance to return another punt but the hang time was good and he was forced to call for a fair catch.
On 1st down, Rivers threw the ball away with Gordon in the vicinity. On 2nd down, Rivers hit his man over the middle of the field, but Hunter Henry was unable to pull the ball in. That brought up the two-minute warning. On 3rd down, Rivers once again threw the ball away at the feet of his running back. Drew Kaser returned punt the ball away again with just under 2 minutes on the clock. The coverage team allowed a 17-yard return.
Siemian started the drive off on the wrong foot by tripping over his own feet to give up a sack. Bennie Fowler got the 8 yards lost back on the next play on a short pass to the right of the formation. On 3rd & 10, A.J. Derby was only able to come up with 7 yards on a short pass across the middle. Riley Dixon’s 41-yard punt was not returned.
Taking over with under a minute to play, the Chargers appeared content to run out the clock. Ekeler rushed for six yards and the Broncos called a time out. Anthony Lynn elected to call another run and go to half time up 14-0.
Brandon McManus’ kick off was good for a touchback and the Chargers started their drive from their own 25-yard line. Gordon got the first touch of the half and went for two yards. Rivers went back to Henry on 2nd & 8 and he picked up 7. A false start on 3rd & 1 pushed the offense back and an incomplete pass intended for Mike Williams resulted in a punt. That punt by Kaser went for 69 yards. Ekeler downed it at the 1.
Starting from their own 1, the Broncos looked to get some breathing room by running Charles up the middle. On 2nd & 7, Siemian hit Jordan Taylor for the 1st down. They tried going back to Charles on the next play, but he was stopped for no gain. On 2nd & 10, Joey Bosa got to Siemian for a sack. On 3rd & 11, Siemian threw underneath and the Chargers were able to tackle Fowler short of the sticks to force another punt. Dixon’s punt was fair caught again by Benjamin.
The Chargers returned to their running game to start the drive and Gordon picked up 3 yards. Play action on 2nd down saw Keenan Allen pick up 13 yards along the right side line. On 1st down, Rivers was sacked for a loss of 5 at midfield. Allen got that yardage back and more on 2nd down to set up a reasonable 3rd & 6. Mike Williams was open on 3rd down and would have easily picked up the 1st, but he dropped the ball. Kaser’s 31-yard punt was fair caught at the 9.
Siemian hit Demaryius Thomas for an 81-yard catch and run on the first play of the drive, but it was called back due to offensive pass interference. The five yard penalty put the Broncos in a hole they could not climb out of and the defense forced a three-and out.
Gordon was stopped for no gain on 1st down and a Russell Okung unnecessary roughness penalty made it 1st & 25. The offense promptly went three-and-out gaining only 17 yards.
Siemian and the Broncos took over on their own 30. The first play of the drive was an incomplete pass, but Jamaal Charles picked up the 1st down on an 11-yard carry on the next play. They added another 1st down on the next play with Andy Janovich taking a short pass 10 yards. A C.J. Anderson run and a Derby reception set up 3rd & 3 as the 3rd quarter ended.
Anderson picked up the 3rd & 3 easily rushing for 7 yards. Joey Bosa collected another sack on the next play. Anderson rushed for 9 yards on 2nd & 15 to st up a reasonable 3rd down. earl overthrew his intended receiver deep and the ball was nearly intercepted. Down 14 and past midfield, Denver lined up to go for it on 4th & 6. Casey Hayward intercepted Siemian’s desperation toss on 4th down.
Looking to run clock and seal a win, the Chargers started their drive running the ball. Austin Ekeler ran off left end for 11 yards and a new set of downs. He was stopped for a short gain on the next play. Ekeler got the call yet again on 2nd down and rushed for 4 yards. On 3rd & 6, the Chargers somehow managed to incur another delay of game penalty and set up 3rd & 11. Following that delay of game, they had to burn a time out to avoid another. A great pass by Rivers and a great catch by Henry moved the chains. With a new set of downs, the Chargers went back to the run and Gordon was stopped behind the line of scrimmage as he tried to turn the corner. An endaround to Benjamin on 2nd down picked up five yards. Rivers looked to but could not connect with Allen on 3rd down, but there was a flag on the play and defensive pass interference resulted in a 1st down. Continuing to lean on the run game looked like it was starting to pay off when Gordon rushed up the middle for a 21-yard gain. His next two carries were less effective though netting negative yards and setting up a 3rd & 11. With 5:51 left on the clock, the Chargers called their second timeout. A 1st down would not ice the game, but it would seriously damage the Broncos’ chances of coming back. A touchdown, which is what they got, put the final nail in the Broncos’ coffin. Travis Benjamin took a short pass across the middle and was gone 42 yards for six points.
Brendan Langley did what he could to breathe life back into the Broncos’ chances by returning Novak’s kickoff 61 yards to the Chargers 43-yard line. Siemian picked up a chunk play by hitting Derby for 18 yards on 1st down. He found Derby again for 6 more on the next play. Derby was there a third time for 8 yards. An illegal formation penalty finally slowed them down. A holding penalty pushed them back further and had them looking at 1st & 25. Two short passes set up 3rd & 18 and McCain sacked Siemian and forced a fumble that the Broncos recovered. On 4th & 26, the Broncos attempted a short pass to Anderson, but he was stopped well short of the line to gain.
The Chargers were unable to generate much yardage, but they did manage to run clock. When they finally punted the ball away, they left Denver with only 56 seconds to operate. The Broncos tried to move the ball but ultimately just ran out the clock.