Week 8 of the 2014 NFL season brings another in a series of short articles which will hold up up what I see as Denver's best (and worst) game against each of the Broncos' 2014 opponents. Feel free to disagree with my choices and share your own views in the comments section. Let's lift up Denver's great (and "bummer") moments to keep the history, traditions and rivalries stoked. It should be noted that in many cases the choice was made based upon the final margin of victory (or defeat).
Denver Broncos vs San Diego Chargers
Best Game: December 21, 1997
Score: Denver 38, San Diego 3
What makes this game great: This was the final game of the 1997 regular season. The Broncos hosted the Chargers and simply dominated the contest. First downs: Denver 24, San Diego 9; Yards: Broncos 451, Chargers 203; Rushing yards: Denver 130, San Diego 70; Passing yards: Broncos 321, Chargers 133. Well, you get the idea. The Chargers did score first and led 3-0 at the end of the first quarter. Three plays into the second quarter, the Broncos took a 7-3 lead. After a San Diego punt and an exchange of interceptions, Denver extended the lead to 14-3, then 21-3 and finally led 24-3 at the half. The Broncos opened the second half with a 68-yard Elway to Shannon Sharpe touchdown pass to make 31-3. Denver added a final touchdown early in the fourth quarter for the final margin.
Worst Game: December 28, 2008
Score: San Diego 52, Denver 21
What makes this game horrible: In what would prove to be Mike Shanahan's last season as Denver's head coach, this game marked the final game in a 3-game losing streak which saw the Broncos drop from an 8-5-0 record -- with a possibility of making the playoffs -- to an 8-8-0 and a third straight season of missing the post season. In some ways, the game -- on paper -- seemed rather close: first downs (San Diego 28, Denver 25), net yards (Chargers 491, Broncos 406) and a 10-6 San Diego lead at the end of the first quarter, for example. The Chargers, however, started to dominate in the second quarter when they took a 17-6 lead early in the quarter. A Denver punt was followed by another San Diego touchdown to make it 24-6. That is where the score stood at the half. The Broncos looked like they were going to get back in the game when they scored on the opening drive of the second half to make the score 24-13. San Diego, however, had other plans. The Chargers answered Denver's score with a touchdown drive of their own and added a second touchdown after an interception by Jay Cutler on the first play of the Broncos' next drive. The score stood at 38-13 at the end of three quarters. Denver tried to get back in the game by scoring early in the fourth quarter and converting a 2-point conversion attempt to trail 28-21. San Diego added two more touchdowns to make the final margin 52-21.
This is a long-standing rivalry that stretches back to the beginning of the both franchises as founding members of the American Football League. Denver has won 5 of their last six meetings, including a playoff game in 2013. In 2014, these teams are very similar and this will undoubtedly be a close, hard-fought game. The Broncos have the edge, though, being 4-0 at home, 1-0 versus the AFC West, 3-0 versus the AFC and are riding a 3-game winning streak.
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