3rd and Long - Zapping the Chargers

Kevork Djansezian

So this was a lot closer than it was supposed to be. 28 points is the season low for the offense and there were more dropped passes than I would like to see yesterday. Still, we won on the road and hopefully didn't suffer any major injuries.

Defensively, there was some good and some bad. If you exclude the short field TD after the Manning fumble, the D only allowed 13 points. That's pretty good. The D only allowed 198 passing yards. That's also pretty good. We'll talk about the bad now.


First, the performance on 3rd and Long.

3rd and 15 at SD 44 (Shotgun) R.Brown right end to 50 for 6 yards (M.Adams, W.Woodyard).
3rd and 7 at SD 32 (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass incomplete short left to K.Allen (Q.Jammer).
3rd and 8 at DEN 22 (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass incomplete deep right to V.Brown (K.Webster).
3rd and 7 at SD 34 (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass incomplete deep left to V.Brown. PENALTY on DEN-D.R-Cromartie, Defensive Pass Interference, 15 yards, enforced at SD 34 - No Play.
3rd and 21 at SD 35 (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short middle to K.Allen to SD 37 for 2 yards (Q.Jammer).
3rd and 8 at SD 42 (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass deep left to A.Gates pushed ob at DEN 34 for 24 yards (C.Harris).
3rd and 13 at DEN 37 P.Rivers pass deep right to E.Royal to DEN 7 for 30 yards (C.Harris).
3rd and 12 at SD 33 (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short right to V.Brown to SD 45 for 12 yards (K.Webster) [R.Ayers].
3rd and 16 at SD 39 (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass incomplete deep left to E.Royal.

The Broncos put the Chargers in 16 3rd down situations, 10 of those were 3rd and Long and the Chargers converted 4 of those 10, including two consecutive 3rd downs on a very critical TD drive in the 4th that made it 28-20. The Chargers actually converted 3 consecutive 3rd and longs (though not on the same drive). The first 3rd and long conversion occurred on the DRC PI penalty. The next was on the 24 yard perfectly thrown pass to Gates on 3rd and 8 (Harris just missed tipping the pass). The 3rd conversion was on the 30 yard pass to Royal where we inexplicably only rushed 2 defenders. The final was on the 12 yard pass to Brown where he got 6 yards after the catch to just make enough for the first. So it was good that we put the Chargers in long situations on 10 of 16 3rd downs, but allowing 4 of 10 to be converted with 3 coming in the 4th quarter is not good - decidedly not good.

The other three third down conversion were 1, 1 and 4 needed to gain. Both 3rd and 1 situations were converted by running the ball. San Diego also converted a 3rd and goal from the 1 for a TD. The other 3rd down conversion (3rd and 4) came on an 8 yard pass to Allen with Webster covering.


For the season we are now allowing 27.8% conversion on 3rd and long (20/72). Overall on 3rd down we are allowing 38.3% conversion. The overall 3rd down number is dramatically worse than last year when we led the league in 3rd down conversion % at 31.5%.


After forcing 6 3-and outs vs IND and 6 vs WAS (2 were 2-and-INT), the Broncos were only able to force 2 3-and-outs against the Chargers. For the season, we only forced fewer 3-and-outs against the Cowgirls (1). Oddly enough, we only forced two against the Jags.


The other stat that I have been tracking all year is first down runs. Generally you need to stop the run on first down in order to force the opposing offense into an eventual 3rd and long. Against SD we allowed 62 yards on 16 first down runs (3.9 ypc). This included the 35 yard run that Matthews got on us, but it was helped later by the 10 yard loss run by Matthews on first down. During the first half last night, the Chargers got 68 yards on 12 first down carries (5.7 ypc). During the second half mainly because they were down by a fairly large margin, the Chargers only ran the ball 4 times on first down and netted -6 yards on those four runs. For the game, the Broncos had 3 TFLs and 1 stop for no gain on first down runs.


For the season, the Broncos have allowed 406 yards on 114 first down runs (3.6 ypc). Overall the Broncos are 2nd in the league in yards allowed per carry at 3.4 (NYJ is #1 at 3.1). So we are actually giving up a little less on 2nd and 3rd down runs on average than on first down runs. Our numbers on first down have been hurt by the three or four large runs that we have allowed on first down - 23 yard to Pryor, 30 yard to Butterfingers, 27 yard to Morris and 35 yard to Matthews.

Final thoughts on the defensive performance against the Chargers: the Chargers came into the game 2nd in the league (behind us) in 3rd down conversion % at 49% (before the game). Holding them to below their average is a decent defensive performance (7 of 16 is 43.8%) even if 4 of those came on third and long. Our remaining opponents rank this way in terms of offensive 3rd down conversions:

  • KC (23rd) - 36%
  • NE (25th) - 35%
  • TEN (8th) - 42%
  • HOU (20th) - 37%
  • OAK (29th) - 33%

So only SD and TEN are not in the bottom third of the league on 3rd down conversion and TEN just lost their starting QB for the rest of the year.

Go Broncos!

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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