Broncos lead Chargers 24-23 after 3 quarters

EDS: UPDATES with third quarter; WILL ONLY be UPDATED if game goes overtime.

Kyle Orton‘s 19-yard pass to tight end Tony Scheffler late in the third quarter was Denver’s first offensive touchdown Monday night, giving the undefeated Broncos a 24-23 lead over the San Diego Chargers entering the fourth quarter.

Denver’s other two touchdowns were provided by Eddie Royal, who became the first player in Broncos history to return a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the same game. He was the 11th player in NFL history to perform the feat.

Royal’s electrifying returns at first silenced Qualcomm Stadium, then had Chargers fans booing.

Royal fielded Mike Scifres‘ punt on the bounce at the 29, worked his way inside, then outraced the coverage to the outside to give Denver a 17-10 lead with 5:53 left before halftime.

The Chargers came back with 10 points in just over a minute, including a 77-yard punt return for a TD by speedy little Darren Sproles. Sproles caught Brett Kern‘s punt, ran up the left sideline, got a nice block at about the 50, cut inside and was gone for a 20-17 lead that held up at halftime.

Just more than a minute earlier, Nate Kaeding of the Chargers kicked a 44-yard field goal.

On Nov. 11, 2007, Sproles returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns in a 23-21 win against Indianapolis.

Denver’s Elvis Dumervil got his NFL-leading ninth sack when he hit Philip Rivers and forced him to fumble late in the third quarter, with Denver’s Vonnie Holliday recovering.

In the first quarter, after the Chargers were forced to settle for a field goal, Royal took the kickoff at the 9, found a big hole at about the 35, cut inside of Kaeding at the 50 and raced down the left sideline to give the Broncos a 7-3 lead.

The Broncos came in at 5-0 atop the AFC West, while the three-time division champion Chargers were trying to rebound from a 2-2 start.

Rivers threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson with 6 seconds left in the first quarter to give the Chargers a 10-7 lead.

The Chargers ran 22 plays to only six for the Broncos in the first quarter, in what seemed more like fast-break basketball than football.

Rivers, in fact, was about to be dragged down by Dumervil when he threw a two-handed chest pass to LaDainian Tomlinson for a 21-yard gain on San Diego’s second drive.

It was one of four passes by Rivers for at least 13 yards on the drive, which started at the San Diego 6-yard line.

The drive stalled, though, leading to some sideline drama involving Tomlinson.

Tomlinson wasn’t on the field on third-and-goal from the 2, when Sproles was stuffed for no gain. Coach Norv Turner had a chagrined look on his face as the Chargers had to settle for Kaeding’s 20-yard field goal.

Tomlinson walked down the sideline toward the bench and flipped his helmet. When he and Turner spoke a few minutes later, L.T. didn’t appear to be looking at the coach.

The teams wore throwback uniforms, which meant a return of Denver’s striped socks. The road combo of white and brown looked like something out of Monty Python.