The game was a dogfight. Denver moved the ball only to have the Chargers stall them on three consecutive trips. It did not matter if they threw the ball, it did not matter if they ran, their redzone woes continued as they left valuable points on the field. What could have been the turning point for San Diego was the 3rd and goal run by CJ Anderson where Peyton Manning became blocker. Already playing with flu-like symptoms, Manning took a wild hit and ended up going to the locker room for what was expected to be an IV drip.
Not only was the touchdown reversed, but Peyton suffered what was to be labeled a "thigh injury."
Broncos blast Chargers 22-10, win AFC West
A thigh injury, flu-like symptoms, and 11 professional football players (the Chargers defense) couldn't stop Peyton Manning Sunday.
Coming out of halftime, John Fox told CBS sideline reporters that Brock Osweiler would start with the Bronco offense out of the gate. Manning would have none of it and convinced Adam Gase to let him re-enter the game.
The 2nd half was wild. The plan all along was to feed CJ Anderson the rock and ask Manning to pick up 3rd down conversions to move the chains. After a scramble revealed there is indeed something wrong with #18, pass interference gave the Broncos a first down and a new lease on the drive. Sometime later, Manning would hit Demaryius Thomas on a beautifully placed back shoulder throw that DT would turn into the lone Broncos TD of the day.
From there, ball control and timely interceptions by Aqib Talib and Rahim Moore stamped out any comeback effort Rivers and company could muster.
This was a hard fought game, and an already dinged up Broncos squad came out of this AFC West battle with even more bruises. The most significant injury other than the one to Peyton Manning was suffered by LB Brandon Marshall who left the game never to return. The extent of his injury is unknown at the time.
In the end, it took a total team effort---offense, defense, and special teams in order for the Broncos to claim their 4th consecutive AFC West title. Rejoice in victory Broncos Country, we are Champions once again!
- This may have been Peyton Manning's finest performance as a Bronco. Playing hurt for the entire 2nd half after entering the game with the flu, Manning hit 6 passes of 25 yards or more en route to 14-20 passing for 233 yards and one touchdown. More importantly, Manning did not turn the ball over.
- CJ Anderson proved to be a workhorse again, carrying the rock 29 times for 85 yards.
- Demaryius Thomas broke the Franchise record held by Rod Smith for most 100-yard games in a season with his eighth of the season. He is now just 11 yards from becoming only the 3rd WR in NFL history with three consecutive 90 catch, 1400 yard, 10+ TD seasons.
- Other than a first quarter forced fumble by Melvin Ingram, the Broncos line who would later feature Chris Clark at LT for Ryan Clady would not give up another sack of Peyton Manning
- Just days after signing a contract extension, Chris Harris Jr. absolutely shut down Keenan Allen to the tune of 18 yards on three receptions.
- The secondary came up big with two huge turnovers in the 4th quarter that would thwart the Chargers attempt to come back.
- Connor Barth showed that he's much more than just an extra point specialist by nailing kicks of 49 and 44 yards right down the middle. This should alleviate some fears going forward.
- Give credit to the front 7 who allowed just 56 yards rushing on 20 carries.
- With this victory, the Broncos tied an NFL record for most consecutive divisional road wins with 12. The Broncos have not lost a road game to an AFC West foe during the John Fox era.
- The officiating was piss poor. Lots of questionable calls. I have no idea what they were thinking on that PI call against TJ Ward near the end of the game, but thank the football Gods Rahim Moore set the record straight on the very next play with an INT.
- TJ Ward was a mismatch on Gates. He didn't give up too much yardage, but there is absolutely no reason for him to be on Gates one on one in the redzone.
- The injuries. Peyton Manning will need to be watched going forward. Brandon Marshall, Ryan Clady. It would be nice to make it to the dance with our key players healthy.
- Fox ball reared it's ugly head in weird situations. After they declared CJ Anderson's run no touchdown, Fox should have gone for it. They had 4th down and less than a foot. In fact you could have said this about any of their first three trips to the redzone. Then with Brock Osweiler in the game what does Fox do? Let's sling it and give the Chargers another opportunity to score (which they did). Just plain stupid. Make them waste their timeouts and run the clock down.
- CJ Anderson running out of bounds before the half probably cost the Broncos points and could have cost them a touchdown.
- Where was the pass rush? And for that matter where was the linebacker on the outlet from the bacfield?
- Jack Del Rio....your defense gets you to the end of the game with a 12 point lead by playing tough smashmouth defense and you STILL CONTINUE TO RESORT TO SOFT ZONE WITH A TWO SCORE LEAD. Knock it off already! You can't keep giving offenses an easy path to our endzone.
You bet your ass this was a good victory. A complete team effort. The Broncos have a longer week to prepare as their next game will come against the Bengals on Monday Night Football in Cincinnati. One more victory will clinch a first-round bye for the Broncos.
Congratulations on a fantastic season so far! We've punched out ticket to the dance, now it's time to crash this party, GO BRONCOS!!!