Good kickoff from the newly signed rookie to help fill in with Ty Long having a hurt plant foot. Touchback.
The Charges defense has a less than ideal start to the game. 1st 2 plays from the Broncos cover 54 yards with a deep pass to the TE and a run from Phillip Lindsay. The Chargers defense isn’t able to make a stop until the Broncos have 1st and goal from the 6 when Joey Bosa makes a great tackle in run defense. They aren’t able to keep the Broncos out of the endzone and Phillip Lindsay walks in almost untouched for a TD.
The Chargers get the ball and the drive starts off on a down note. Troymaine Pope catches the kickoff 7 yards deep and decides to bring it out, only making it to the 16 yard line, leaving a free 9 yards on the field.
They decide to give Melvin Gordon heavy usage early, giving him 4 of the first 6 plays. He can’t get anything going and the offense is only able to get 1 first down before punting back to the Broncos.
Gus Bradley’s defense starts the 2nd drive off with a good stuff for 1 yard on a run, then a bad snap forces a quick incompletion on 2nd down. Then on 3rd down Cortland Sutton is able to separate from Desmond King in the slot and get open for a 1st down.
They are able to get another good play from Uchenna Nwosu, stuffing Phillip Lindsay for a 2 yard loss. Then the bottom falls out. Cortland Sutton comes free over the middle, then both Rayshawn Jenkins AND Roderic Teamer miss tackles, allowing Cortland Sutton to go 70 yards for a touchdown. Cool.
Chargers start a 2nd straight drive inside their own 20 after a holding call on WR Geremy Davis negates a 30 yard return by Pope. The Chargers are able to get a couple of first downs thanks to a defensive holding as well as nice catch and run from Austin Ekeler.
Then Von Miller makes his first big play of the game, and there will be more, as he beats Trent Scott around the edge and forces Rivers to make his throw on the move, which leads to a bad high pass. The pass is tipped and picked off by the Broncos.
Chargers 3rd defensive series brings a change already. Drue Tranquill in the game for Denzel Perryman. Tranquill turns that into 2 tackles quickly, including a quick tackle on a pass to the TE which limits the pass to a very short gain.
End of the 1st: Broncos 14 - Chargers 0
Uchenna Nwosu, in the game for Melvin Ingram comes up huge to start the 2nd Quarter. With the Broncos inside the Chargers’ 25, Nwosu gets the strip sack which is recovered by Jatavis Brown. The Chargers really needed that.
The Chargers start driving on this turn with the ball. Rivers is able to get Ekeler involved out of the backfield on a few good passes as well as Derek Watt again. Rivers throws a deep pass down to Andre Patton which draws a pass interference penalty getting the Chargers into Broncos territory for the first time today.
Rivers and the offense convert multiple 3rd downs to keep the ball moving on this drive. There is a miscommunication on a play where Austin Ekeler was supposed to come in for a handoff on a play where Gordon and Ekeler were both on the field, but it appears Ekeler missed the call as Rivers had to just take the sack with Ekeler going upfield for a pass.
The drive fizzles out and goes backwards at the end when Rivers is flushed out of the pocket and can’t get the ball to the LOS, taking an intentional grounding. This forces the rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin to have a 48 yard attempt for his first kick. He knuckles it and ironically has a kick that looks like it was attempted by a punter.
The defense continues to get eaten up. They let Joe Flacco drive down to the Chargers red zone. They do eventually lock it down there forcing the FG. 17-0 Broncos.
The Chargers offense gets the ball back and Forrest Lamp is now in at LG. Rivers is able to find Mike Williams for a pair of deep passes on this drive. Looks like Mike is feeling better as he makes 2 big catches in traffic.
Rivers and company drive into Broncos territory and get two free first downs on defensive holding calls. With under 2 minutes the Chargers have the ball on the Broncos 30.
Rivers makes a great play waiting as long as possible before dumping off to Austin Ekeler who picks up the first down on 3rd and 6 setting up a 1st and goal from the 10.
Rivers then finds Mike Williams at the 3 yard line for 3rd and goal from the 3. Rivers then hits Ekeler again on an out route to the 1. Ken Whisenhunt then decides to get cute and calls a gadget play rather than pound Melvin Gordon for the TD. The Chargers are held scoreless in the first half for the first time in 55 games.
End of the 1st half: Broncos 17 - Chargers 0
Chargers get the ball to start the 2nd half and go 3 and out.
The Defense is able to force the Broncos to punt after not gaining much besides a 16 yard run from Phillip Lindsay.
The Chargers offense comes out without Mike Pouncey who is now out with a neck injury. Dan Feeney in at C with Forrest Lamp in at LG. They’re able to move the ball for a 1st down but then fizzle out again and Ty Long gets off his 3rd punt of the day, and a good one at that, pinning the Broncos inside their 10.
After a good run stuff on the first play. Uchenna Nwosu and Jerry Tillery meet at the QB for a big sack. The Chargers give up 11 on 3rd and 14 but still force the 3 and out.
Keenan Allen starts the Chargers next drive off with an uncharacteristic drop. Everyone officially playing like crap today. On 3rd and 3 the Chargers give the handoff to Melvin Gordon who stops his feet in the backfield and winds up with a 1 yard loss forcing the 4th punt of the day. Luckily the Broncos returner helps the Chargers out by catching it at the 4 and dancing to get tackled there.
Justin Jones gets his hand up on the 2nd play for the Broncos and tips a ball that Kyzir White is able to intercept inside the 10 yardline.
Chargers get the ball 1st and goal from the 7. Melvin Gordon takes the first play down to the 1 with a good burst.
2nd and goal. Ken Whisenhunt gets cute again and tries a read option play with Tyrod Taylor and Rivers out wide and shockingly (not) it doesn’t work. Then on 3rd down “hero” Phil tries to force a pass to Mike Williams and gets picked off again. Just Pathetic.
The Defense again, lead by Uchenna Nwosu forces a 3 and out.
The punt is then taken back to the house by Dez King. 68 yards for a touchdown. It was a great return by king, patience, vision, then the long speed to take it the distance.
Joey Bosa starts the next drive off with a great play against the run, getting a tackle on Phillip Lindsay for a 3 yard loss. This ends the 3rd quarter.
End of the 3rd: Broncos 17 - Chargers 7
The Broncos are able to do some things to get moving but the Chargers “bend but don’t break” and wind up forcing a 54 yard field goal attempt when Joey Bosa is able to come up with a clutch sack on 3rd down. Brandon McManus pushes the FG attempt wide left, no good. The Chargers’ voodoo against opposing kickers continues.
Rivers takes a deep shot to start the next drive and draws the pass interference call to quickly move the Chargers deep into Broncos territory. The Chargers offense fizzles out there forcing a second FG attempt by McLaughlin, this time from 45. McLaughlin makes a great kick and brings it to a 1 score game for the Chargers. 17 - 10 Broncos.
Justin Jones gets the Chargers defensive stand going perfectly with a tackle for no gain. Then the Chargers force Joe Flacco to bail and run for only 3 yards. On 3rd and 7, Rayshawn Jenkins makes a great play by drilling the receiver short of the sticks and forcing another 3 and out.
Rivers gets the ball with 4:22 on the clock from the 20 down by 7.
Austin Ekeler starts the drive off with one of the more heads up plays I’ve ever seen. Von Miller jumped offsides but Ekeler didn’t know that, which makes what happened even more impressive. He takes the handoff and it’s supposed to be a flea flicker. Ekeler sees Von closing in free on Rivers and just tucks the ball and manages to get 5 yards out of it.
Rivers almost gives the game away with a pass that hits a LB in the hands that Phil clearly didn’t see. Luckily the LB dropped it. On 3rd and 10 the Chargers get the perfect opportunity for a delayed pass to Melvin Gordon out of the backfield, but Sam Tevi gets blown onto his ass by Von Miller and it knocks Melvin Gordon off balance and he can’t turn around in time for the catch. The Chargers are forced to punt again.
The first play after the punt, Denzel Perryman makes a poor read into the wrong hole, and Rayshawn Jenkins misses his 4th tackle of the game. Phillip Lindsay takes the ball 32 yards.
Aided by a Broncos holding penalty, the Chargers force a 3rd and 14, outside of FG range, with 2:15 left. Once again Phillip Lindsay is able to find space to go 13 yards and change for 4th and less than 1..in FG range.
Brandon McManus nails a 46 yard FG to make it 20 - 10 with less than 2 minutes left and only 1 time out for the Chargers.
1st play is a dump off to Austin Ekeler for 6 yards and he’s able to get out of bounds. 1:48 left.
2nd Play over the middle to Mike Williams for a 1st down, clock still running.
3rd play over the middle to Austin Ekeler for a chunk of yards into Broncos territory, clock still going.
4th play over the middle to Mike Williams then another play over the middle to Ekeler again.
The Chargers burn clock all the way down to 15 seconds left where they attempt the 32 yard FG. This leaves 10 seconds and a timeout. Even with an onsides recovery...this looks unlikely.
Onside kick recovered by the Broncos.