The second half season success continues for the Broncos as they cruise passed the San Diego Chargers for their fifth game in a row. A game that had meant much for the Chargers came up short and are gearing up for next season barring a miracle.
The Broncos continue to impress during their five game win streak as the shows no problem of slowing down, scoring in the 30′s for a fifth week in a row.
The defense, lead by OLB Von Miller continues to shutdown offenses, giving up an average of 13.6 points per game.
One part of their game they struggled with in the early going of the season was third downs. But the Broncos seem to be even figuring out their weakness and are correcting them. The Broncos had a stretch of 26 third down’s that were not converted by the opposing offense until the later stages of the third quarter where the Chargers converted on their 13th attempt.
But on Sunday, the game wasn’t all good and dandy for the Broncos to begin with. Each team went three and out on their first drives. The Broncos, on their second drive, called out the blitz, yet the Chargers were prepared. The Broncos looked to get a bubble screen to WR Mattew Willis, when the Chargers deflected the pass and put the ball up for grabs. Safety Eric Weddle made a play on the ball and took the interception 23 yards the other way for the first score of the game.
But not long after, the Broncos offense warmed up and started to move the ball on the Charger defense. In just over two and a half minutes, Denver marched 43 yards on 6 plays with QB Peyton Manning connecting with WR Demaryius Thomas for a 13 yard touchdown reception.
The defense got involved in on the attack as well, and stand out LB Wesley Woodyard continues to make plays for the Broncos. Folowing the kickoff, on the first play for the Chargers, Woodyard dropped back into coverage, Rivers not able to see Woodyard, gets picked off and Woodyard himself goes back the other for a interception. He takes it 17 yards to the Chargers 8 yard line, setting the Broncos up for a field goal.
The all around performance continued for the Broncos as the special teams came alive for a third week in a row. Nate Irving goes through the line untouched, blocking the punt. On the next play, Manning connects with WR Brandon Stokley for 31 yards and the Broncos increase their lead to 17-7
The defense showed no mercy against the Chargers. 10 drives, 74 total yards, every drive resulted in punts with the exception of two drives that end in turnovers. The defense was led by none other that Miller, who continues to state his case. 7 solo tackles, 3 sacks, 2 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles.
“It’s a long list. He’s a very talented guy. Last year, I thought he made a big splash as a rookie. He probably played seven or eight games with one hand and I think he’s just gotten better.” John Fox speaking about Miller after the game on DenverBroncos.com
The Chargers would gain momentum on the Broncos first drive of the second half. A missed block by rookie RB Ronnie Hillman lead to a free defensive player to get after Manning, resulting in a safety.
Following another Manning touchdown pass, who was 25-of-42 for 270 yards, 3 TD’s and INT, the Chargers finally found the bread and butter to contain the Broncos. Slow the game down.
On the next Charger drive, 10 of the 12 plays were passes where Rivers completed 7 of those passes to keep the Broncos off the field for 6:25 of the third quarter. Also resulting in a touchdown grab by WR Danario Alexander, 24-16 Denver. But we got a ball game.
Denver was forced into two field goals to extend their lead to 30-16 Denver.
The Chargers were able to score late in the fourth with just under two minutes to go to move the score to 30-23, attempting a onside kick, in which Broncos TE Virgil Green was able to recover and seal the deal for the Broncos.
The Broncos don’t come out of this game unscathed though. Multiple reports have come out saying that RB Willis McGahee is out 6-8 weeks due to a torn MCL. Expect to either see Knowshon Moreno activated or Jeremiah Johnson promoted to the 53 man roster.
For the Broncos, here on out, play only two teams with winning records. With a three game lead and Kansas City up next, Fox isn’t looking ahead to division title yet.
“We’re going to Kansas City next week, and this is our first time playing them. I’ve played in Arrowhead (Stadium) a number of times—never as part of a (AFC West) division game, but I’ve played in a playoff game there and against some good Kansas City teams in Arrowhead, and it’s a tough place to play. I just throw these records out the window in the division. I don’t know what their record is, but the film that I’ve seen and the TV games that I’ve seen, the defense has some good players, and I don’t know what’s going on with their offense, or whatever, but I know it’s a challenge. That’s all I’m worried about: trying to improve, trying to get a win, and, certainly, you want to be playing your best football down the home stretch here, in November and December.”
The Broncos continue their stellar second half of the season and move closer towards consecutive division titles.