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A Mile High Night to Remember, Chargers Beat Broncos 27-20

Posted Dec 12, 2013

The San Diego Chargers beat the Denver Broncos at Mile High, 27-20

Photo Gallery: Chargers vs. Broncos | More Photos

The Chargers won the opening coin toss and per usual opted to defer.  After a 40-yard return by Trindon Holliday, Peyton Manning moved the Broncos down the field 67 yards on seven plays, finishing the drive with a touchdown pass to Andre Caldwell.  Down 7-0, the Bolts offense took over and kicked off the drive with an 18 yard run by Ryan MathewsVincent Brown caught a 14 yard pass to put San Diego in Denver territory, and two plays later, Antonio Gates caught a ball on 3rd-and-7 to move the Chargers into the Red Zone at the 19-yard line. Faced with a 3rd-and-11, Rivers and Keenan Allen weren’t on the same page as the rookie cut inside and the ball went to the outside.  Nick Novak came in and booted a 38-yard field goal to trim San Diego’s deficit to 7-3 after an 11-play drive.   It looked like the Chargers got a third down stop, but Richard Marshall was called for defensive holding, keeping the drive alive.  After a long completion to Eric Decker, Reggie Walker had a big six-yard stop of Montee Ball on first down.  After an incompletion, Julius Thomas caught an 11-yard pass on 3rd-and-16, limiting the damage to a 32-yard Matt Prater field goal to extend the home team’s lead to 10-3. A seven-yard run by Mathews and an 11-yard scamper by Rivers had the Bolts at their own 38 as the quarter came to a close.

The dynamic running back duo of Danny Woodhead and Mathews put the Bolts in Denver territory to start the second quarter.  Woodhead took a short toss 13 yards, and two plays later, Mathews ran 10 yards to the 39-yard line.  A diving catch by Vincent Brown made it 3rd-and-inches at the 25 yard line, and a second effort by Mathews got the first down.  After a couple short runs the Bolts faced 3rd-and-6, Allen took a pass over the middle and darted toward the goal line where he leaped and powered his way into the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown.  The score tied the game at 10-10. A big run stuff by Cam Thomas followed by a pass breakup at the line of scrimmage by Eric Weddle and strong coverage by Shareece Wright forced the first punt of the game on a three-and-out.  Unfortunately, the Chargers' offense went three and out as well, and Mike Scifres boomed a 53-yard punt that backed the Broncos up at their own six yard line.  Once again, the Chargers defense came up big on third down. Marcus Gilchrist came up with a 12-yard sack of Manning at the two yard line.  Corey Liuget deserves the assist on the play for shredding two blockers to force Peyton toward Gilchrist. The Bolts took over in Denver territory at the 43-yard line.  A pair of powerful runs followed by a big catch by Eddie Royal for 12 yards set the Chargers up at the 13 yard line as the clock clicked down to the two-minute warning. On 3rd-and-7, Rivers hit Allen in the corner of the end zone again for a huge touchdown with 1:05 remaining in the first half, giving the Bolts a 17-10 advantage. For the third time in a row, the Chargers' defense came up with a three-and-out stop, forcing a punt with 23 seconds remaining in the half.  After a short punt return by Allen, Rivers trotted onto the field and took a knee, sending the game to halftime.

After Royal got a quick first down, Rivers hit a diving Vincent Brown for 35-yards on 3rd-and-9 to the Denver 35 yard line. A pair of Woodhead runs churned out another first down.  Then, Mathews darted 23-yards up the right sideline aided by big blocks by the offensive line for a 24-10 lead. The score capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive in 3:54 seconds.  Novak’s kickoff went out of bounds, giving Denver the ball at their own 40-yard line.  After a first down, Gilchrist had a huge pass deflection at the line of scrimmage to force a third down that the Bolts also stopped, forcing a punt that dropped in at the one-yard line.  Backed up, the Chargers went three-and-out, and it looked like Scifres was going to punt, but the Broncos committed a neutral zone infraction to give the Bolts a first down.  Three plays later, Gates caught a nine-yard reception on 3rd-and-6.   On first down it looked like Woodhead was knocked back for a four-yard loss, but Head Coach Mike McCoy noticed 12 men on the field for the Broncos and threw the challenge flag.  Instead of 2nd-and-14, it became 1st-and-5.  Ronnie Brown picked up the first down, blasting his way up to the San Diego 38-yard line, followed by an Eddie Royal gain of 20 on 1st-and-15 to put the ball in Broncos territory.  On 3rd-and-7, Rivers was sacked, forcing a punt that Scifres dropped to the 11-yard line. The Broncos picked up one first down before the quarter ended.

A 21-yard catch by Eric Decker put the Broncos into San Diego territory to start the quarter.   The Bolts defense held strong at the 31, but the Broncos went for it on 4th-and-6.  On the play, Manning hit Andre Caldwell for 15 yards to the 16-yard line. A few plays later, Caldwell scored his second touchdown of the game to trim the lead to 24-17. On third down, the Broncos were called for pass interference on a pass intended for Ladarius Green.  The foul put the ball at the Chargers 43-yard line followed by a Mathews carry that put the ball into Denver territory.  On third and short, Mathews was stuffed in the backfield, forcing a punt.  Starting deep in their own territory, the Broncos offense was marching quickly downfield until Corey Liuget got a hand on Manning's pass resulting in Thomas Keiser interception.  With just over five minutes remaining, the Chargers' offense came back on the field looking to wind down the clock and put away the Broncos. With a handful of run plays, the Chargers set up Nick Novak to boot a field goal straight thru the uprights , putting the Chargers up 27-17 with just over two minutes remaining.  As the clock hit two minutes, Peyton Manning had the Broncos at their own 40-yard line. The Broncos are stopped short on third down, bringing Broncos kicker Matt Prater on to kick a 42-yard field goal.  The kick was good and the Broncos trailed by seven with 29 seconds remaining.  Forced to go for the onside kick, the Broncos fell short and the Chargers took over on the 40-yard line.  Philip Rivers took a knee to seal the victory for the Bolts, 27-20.

Turning Point

The Bolts led 17-10 coming out of halftime and had possession of the ball to start the second half.  They faced a 3rd-and-9 from their own 33-yard line when Philip Rivers threw a dime up the left sideline aimed for Vincent Brown.  The wideout laid out full extension to bring the ball in for a 32-yard gain.  Eventually, the drive ended with a 23-yard touchdown scamper by Ryan Mathews to give San Diego a 24-10 lead, putting them in the driver’s seat.

It was Over When…

Up by seven with 2:41 remaining, Nick Novak connected from 35 yards out to give the Chargers a 10-point lead.  Although the Broncos got a field goal toward the end, their onside kick attempt was knocked out of bounds, bringing Philip Rivers out to take a knee and bring the victory back to San Diego.

Play of the Game

Down 10-3 with just over five minutes into the second quarter, the Bolts were faced with a 3rd-and-6 from the Denver 19-yard line.  Philip Rivers connected with Keenan Allen on a crossing route, and the rookie wideout commenced to put together one of the best touchdowns in the league to date.  He sprinted toward the goal line and jumped a mile high over a defender before meeting another right at the goal line.  Instead of being knocked back though, he muscled his way into the end zone for the team’s first touchdown of the game.

Stat of the Game

Ryan Mathews recorded 127 yards on 29 carries.  In the process, he topped 1,000 yards on the year and is now tied for the league-lead with five 100-yard games.

Bolt Quotebook

“An outstanding team performance.  A lot of big plays at critical moments of the game.  The interception at the end of the game – outstanding! The number of three-and-outs by the defense. Give John Pagano a lot of credit for the defensive game plan he put in on a short week and the players for going out and executing it.  They had a belief in what we were doing” – Head Coach Mike McCoy

“That’s a great place to play and a great place to win.  Any win is special, but a division rival at their house, it’s hard to beat it.” – Center Nick Hardwick

“Philip gave me the ball pretty quick so I was able to get my head around it.  I saw green grass and the touchdown and two defenders in front of me.  It was all a mindset.  I wasn’t going to be denied.” –Wide Receiver Keenan Allen

“It was a great overall team effort in all three phases.  It feels good to finally put it all together.” – Defensive End Corey Liuget

“This was a huge, huge win especially where we are at in the season and where we are as an organization.  Coach coming back for the first time and getting him that win, which was something.  We are all obviously really happy to get this ‘W’”- Inside Linebacker Donald Butler

Odds and Ends

Philip Rivers completed 12 of 20 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns for a 120,0 passer rating.

Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal tied for the team lead with three catches each, while Brown had a team-high 54 yards.

Both of Keenan Allen’s catches were for touchdowns.

Ryan Mathews matched his career-high that he set this past Sunday with 29 carries for 127 yards and one touchdown.

Shareece Wright paced the defense with seven tackles.

The Bolts finished 6-of-12 (50%) on third down while limiting Denver to just 2-of-9 (22%).

San Diego churned out 337 yards while limiting the Broncos to just 295 yards.

The Chargers allowed just 18 yards on the ground.

The Bolts dominated time of possession, 38:49 to 21:11.

Nick Novak moved into fourth place in Chargers team history with 73 career field goals.

Inactives for the Chargers included: Brad Sorensen, Lavelle Hawkins, Johnny Patrick, Brandon Taylor, Steve Schilling, Kenny Wiggins and Kwame Geathers.

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