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Broncos 3rd & Long: Cry Me a Rivers

The defense was fairly dominant and the offense was purposefully vanilla in our 17-3 victory of the soon-to-be Los Angeles Chargers.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The three points surrendered by our defense were a season low. The farthest that the Chargers were able to move the ball during the game was our 27. We kept them out of the red zone for the game. Their longest drive of the day was 47 yards. Our defense, despite missing a host of guys, was dominant.

I was hoping for more points out of the offense so that we could have gotten Trevor Siemian some snaps in a blow-out victory, but San Diego's defense played their best game of the season and we were able to go conservative for most of the game and still win by 14. If you rewatch the game, you'll see we left some points on the field. So it should have been more like 27-3 or 30-6, but a divisional road win is still nothing to sneeze at even if it seems to be old hat for us.

The last time the Broncos lost a divisional road game was December 19, 2010 (@ Oakland).  There are only two players currently on the team that were on that team: Ryan Harris and David Bruton. All of the offensive players who touched the ball for us that day are out of the league. Let that sink in for a bit then say "Thank You John Elway" before you continue to read this.

Defensive Performance on 3rd & Long (7 or more needed to gain)

Despite their success running the ball on first down (more on that later), the Chargers found themselves facing 3rd & long nine times on fourteen 3rd downs.

Situation Play Result
3rd and 7 at SD 33 (9:53 - 1st) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short left to A.Gates to SD 41 for 8 yards (A.Talib) conversion by catch
3rd and 14 at SD 45 (5:03 - 1st) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short right to D.Inman to DEN 40 for 15 yards (B.Marshall, D.Bruton). SD-D.Inman was injured during the play conversion by catch
3rd and 16 at DEN 30 (3:15 - 1st) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass incomplete short left to D.Woodhead (M.Jackson) incomplete
3rd and 19 at SD 15 (13:21 - 2nd) (Shotgun) D.Woodhead up the middle to SD 22 for 7 yards (M.Jackson) catch but short
3rd and 10 at DEN 33 (1:52 - 2nd) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass incomplete deep right to M.Floyd (D.Stewart) [M.Jackson]. DEN-A.Talib was injured during the play incomplete
3rd and 9 at DEN 42 (7:46 - 3rd) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short right to M.Floyd to DEN 27 for 15 yards (J.Bush). FUMBLES (J.Bush), RECOVERED by DEN-D.Stewart at DEN 26. D.Stewart to DEN 26 for no gain (M.Floyd). Penalty on SD-S.Johnson, Offensive Pass Interference, declined complete but fumble turnover
3rd and 17 at SD 37 (1:25 - 3rd) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short left to D.Woodhead to SD 47 for 10 yards (C.Harris) catch but short
3rd and 8 at SD 13 (7:24 - 4th) (Shotgun) P.Rivers sacked at SD 5 for -8 yards (V.Miller) sack
3rd and 20 at SD 25 (2:48 - 4th) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short left to J.Herndon to SD 41 for 16 yards (B.Roby, D.Bruton) catch but short

The two conversions were there first two, which both happened in the first quarter. Six out of the nine long situations were really long - 10 or more needed to gain. The Chargers only five third downs in the game. There other three conversions came on 3rd and 4 (Gates' catch for 9 yards) and two runs on 3rd and 1. The were only in 3rd and short (1-3 needed to gain) twice and converted them both.

For the season we have now allowed conversion on 29 of 101 3rd & long situations (28.7%). This number includes the conversions by penalty. Leaving out the penalty conversions we are allowing 22.6% conversion on 3rd & long which currently ranks 6th in the league. Arizona is leading the league with 16.4% conversion allowed in these situations. Detroit is dead last allowing 34.7%.

Overall on 3rd down this year we have allowed conversion on 64 of 172 attempts (including penalty conversions) - 37.2%. Ten of those conversions have been via penalty so we are only allowing 33.3% conversion if you leave out the penalty conversions (as the league does). That is good for 5th in the league right now behind Houston, St. Louis, Arizona and Seattle. Jacksonville is currently dead last at 46.7% allowed.

Stopping the Run on First Down

The Chargers ran the ball 11 times for 57 yards on first down against us (5.18 ypc). That was the best that any offense had down on a per carry basis against us this season. Cleveland had 77 yards on the first down runs against us but that was on 20 carries. The good thing is that most of the Chargers yards came on one carry - Gordon's 21 yard run. That 21 yard carry on first down was the longest run on first down that we have surrendered all year. Other than that we limited them pretty well when they ran the ball on first down (10 carries for 36 yards - 3.60 ypc).

For the season we have now allowed 511 yards on 161 first down runs (3.17 ypc). This is still the best in the league. Seattle is creeping closer with 3.24 ypc allowed on first down. The Vikings are still dead last at 5.29 ypc allowed on first down. Last season we finished the year 2nd in the league allowing 3.51 ypc on first down runs. That number was inflated by the 85 yard TD run we allowed to Jeremy Hill on first down. Leaving out that run, our defense would have finished last season allowing only 3.10 ypc on first down runs, which would have easily been the best in the league - the Lions ended the season allowing 3.42 ypc in 2014.

Moving forward

The Faiders come to town next Sunday losers of four of their last five games. At 5-7 they will be clinging to the tiniest of hopes of making the post-season. I'm certain that Jack Del Rio would love to beat us in Denver, but I'm equally certain that is not going to happen. This Broncos team is not going to waste the gift that the Eagles gave us by beating the P*ts in Poxboro and allowing us to control our own destiny. Some might be worried that the Broncos would look past this game to the final road game of the season with the Steelers, but I don't think that the veterans on this team are going to let that happen.

It would not surprise me in the least for us to run the table and finish the season at 14-2 with the #1 seed in the AFC. I think that the Broncos defense is going to be focused on showing that they can dominate the Raiders offense in the same way that they dominated the Packer's, P*t's (second half) and Chargers' offenses.