Beating Broncos big deal for Chargers’ Pagano
Thursday was a special night for San Diego Chargers defensive
coordinator John Pagano, for reasons that went beyond the role his
players had in a stunning upset of Peyton Manning and the Denver
Pagano is from Colorado. His father, Sam, a longtime high school
coach in Boulder, watched from the sideline.
When rookie coach Mike McCoy awarded game balls in the locker
room after the 27-20 victory, the first one went to Pagano for
coming up with a scheme that made the Broncos’ high-scoring offense
look average and kept the Chargers in the playoff picture.
”It’s something that as a kid you dream about,” Pagano said
Friday. ”Me being from Colorado, to be in that stadium, to have my
dad down there to watch, the guys played with that unbelievable
effort, it’s amazing. It’s pretty special. It’s an awesome game and
we love being part of it.”
Pagano said his father is always there when the Chargers visit
the Broncos. He usually visits the sideline and then watches most
of the game from the press box. Thursday night, he was on the
sideline the whole game.
Pagano, the younger brother of Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck
Pagano, got emotional talking about being with his dad. Chuck and
John both played for their father at Fairview High.
”I was trying to talk to players by the heater and I think I
had to push him out of the way one time,” Pagano said. ”It’s just
one of those moments that is unbelievable to see. He got my brother
and I into this profession. It is a very special moment and to see
him down there is an honor. To be able to hug him after something
like that is a very special moment.”
Pagano also tripped and fell while celebrating a big play.
”It probably wasn’t my most athletic move. But it gets rough
down there,” he said. ”I’ll probably be getting a call from the
Broncos grounds crew to fix that spot but it’s all good. I’m always
The victory kept the Chargers (7-7) alive in the playoff race,
although they’ll need to win out and get some big help elsewhere.
They finish with home games against Oakland and Kansas City.
Pagano said the Chargers’ plan was ”to disrupt and disguise and
take away certain guys that we needed to take away. We did all
those things and executed it. We still had mental errors but they
weren’t bad. …The guys were playing off of one another.
”They gave us some looks that did things different. We called
everything that was on that call sheet. We emptied it out and guys
had to adjust to their multiple formations. The communication was
unbelievable. There was nobody coming to the sidelines saying, `I
didn’t get the call.’ `’
Manning looked average and threw a late interception that sealed
the victory. San Diego held Denver to just 18 yards rushing.
Chuck Pagano’s Colts handed the Broncos their first loss this
season, and younger brother John had a big hand in dealing them
their third loss.
The Pagano brothers talked by phone afterward.
”Yes, he was very excited,” John Pagano said. ”I’m his No. 1
fan and I know he is mine. Being able to talk to him and go over
the things that we talk about that are so special. Like I said, to
have someone else in your profession that is a family member to
talk things over with is unbelievable.
”He probably gives me more advice and words of wisdom than any
person in my life. I am proud of what he has done and what he has
accomplished. It is always good to talk to family. We usually don’t
talk if we lose, so it’s always good to win because then we
communicate more. If we both lose then there is no
McCoy, who was Denver’s offensive coordinator the previous four
seasons, said the most impressive thing about the win was the way
the defense played.
”That is a very good offense,” McCoy said. ”It’s one of the
best in the history of football through 13 weeks and then 14 weeks
now. They are very explosive. They are very efficient. We all know
who Peyton Manning is.
”He is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. The game
plan that John Pagano put together and the way the players executed
it is out of this world. To have 18 yards rushing against a very
efficient football team that runs the football, that exposes you on
certain things. It was a great effort.”
Pagano said the short week helped in that it prevented a lot of
”The preparation was the same,” he said. ”It was like we were
at an auction – it was going fast.”
Ryan Mathews had 127 yards on 29 carries – giving him 230 yards
on 58 carries in five days. Rookie Keenan Allen had another big
game, catching touchdown passes of 19 and 10 yards.
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