Chargers play keep-away in 27-20 win over Broncos
It started out as a giveaway and ended in a keep-away.
Mike McCoy’s gamble paid huge dividends when San Diego’s coach
outfoxed mentor John Fox and handed Peyton Manning his first
divisional loss since coming to Denver as the Chargers stunned the
Broncos 27-20 on Thursday night.
”We didn’t have the ball much and when we had it, we didn’t do
much with it,” a dejected Manning said after spending much of his
night on the sideline.
McCoy bucked conventional wisdom and give Manning the ball
first, deferring after winning the coin toss.
It seemed like a huge mistake when Manning, who entered the game
with 45 TD throws as leader of a high-octane offense that was
scoring nearly 40 points a game, needed just seven plays to put the
Broncos ahead 7-0 with a 15-yard touchdown toss to Bubba
Before long, Manning had Denver up 10-3.
Then, the Chargers held the Broncos to just 13 yards on their
next 13 plays covering nearly 30 minutes of game clock, allowing
just one first down and forcing a flustered Manning to go
three-and-out three times.
The Chargers, on the other hand, were chewing up yards and clock
on their way to winning the time of possession by an astonishing 17
minutes, 38 seconds.
”The longer you keep the ball and the less he has it, the
better off you’re going to be,” said McCoy, who was Manning’s
offensive coordinator in Denver last season.
San Diego’s upset sent ripples through the AFC playoff
The Chargers (7-7), who finish with home games against Oakland
and Kansas City, are now in the thick of the wild-card race after
Philip Rivers, who threw two TD passes to rookie Keenan Allen,
joined Vince Young in becoming the second QB to beat the Manning
brothers in back-to-back weeks.
”We obviously know we’ve got to win the next two and need some
help,” Rivers said. ”Too bad we didn’t take care of business in
some of those other games or we would be the team that’s running
away with the sixth seed. But we’re not. We are where we are. We’re
a .500 ball club that’s going to fight like crazy to get the next
The Broncos (11-3) were left to sweat out the long weekend.
The New England Patriots (10-3) can surpass them in the race for
the top seed in the AFC with a win over Miami and the Chiefs (10-3)
can tie them atop the AFC West again, although the Broncos own the
The Broncos have to be hoping the Chargers don’t reach the
Denver has been held under 30 points just three times all
season, twice by the Chargers, whom the Broncos beat 28-20 last
month when Jack Del Rio was in charge while Fox was recuperating
from heart surgery in North Carolina.
The Broncos had won 10 straight AFC West games under
”We feel like we can match up with them,” Chargers safety Eric
Weddle said. ”On paper, a lot of people don’t think we’re very
good, but in our minds we’ve played them well in the past. We’ve
had some battles. There’s been some low-scoring games. They’re not
going to put up 45 on us like they’ve done against thousands of
Behind Rivers’ TD throws of 19 and 10 yards to Allen, and Nick
Novak’s 38-yard field goal, the Chargers took a 17-10 lead into the
The Chargers cashed in on their coin-toss deferment when Ryan
Matthews, who tied his season high with 127 yards on 29 carries,
scored a 23-yard TD on San Diego’s opening drive of the third
quarter to make it 24-10.
The Broncos had faced double-digit deficits each of the last two
weeks and overcame them to beat Kansas City 35-28 and Tennessee
But there was no such comeback on this night. Just when it
looked like they were going to make a run, penalties proved
The Chargers were lined up to punt out of their own end zone on
fourth-and-4 from their own 7 when Broncos linebacker Nate Irving
jumped into the neutral zone for a 5-yard flag and a first
The Chargers would run another 11 plays and seven minutes off
the clock before punting, leaving Manning on the sideline to warm
up his arm and wait some more.
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