The Denver Broncos open up the first quarter with a nice two play, 80 yard drive that took a whooping 31 seconds off the clock. Brock Osweiler hit Demaryius Thomas for an easy catch. Thomas would then take it to the house in epic fashion.
With the Broncos up 7-0, the Chargers get the ball for the first time and got a quick first down on a couple of intermediate gains. On third down and eight near midfield, Philip Rivers hit an open receiver being covered by backup safety Josh Bush for a first down.
The drive would ultimately stall and the Chargers would settle for a field goal to cut the Broncos lead to 7-3.
On their next possession, the Broncos would run the ball down the throats of the Chargers defense for several first downs. Osweiler would hit Emmanuel Sanders down the sideline for a 47 yard reception, but Sanders would fumble the ball right into the hands of a Chargers defense.
From their own five yard line, the Chargers would try to run the ball twice before setting themselves up with a third and six. Rivers would have too many defenders in his face and would make an errant throw to force a punt.
The Broncos, with time running down in the first quarter, came up big on third down as Osweiler hit Thomas for a converted catch. Unfortunately, misfortune struck the Broncos offense again as a perfectly thrown ball bounces off Jordan Norwood's hands right into the hands of another waiting Chargers defender.
If only the Broncos would fully unleash C.J. Anderson, who is already trucking guys in the first quarter of this game.
CJ Anderson running hard, and right over people pic.twitter.com/n7RFmm8Lhg— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 3, 2016
Near midfield, the Chargers would convert a third and short and promptly rip off another seven yard run by Donald Brown. However, for ever big run the Broncos defense would come up with a negative play - knocking Brown back on the very next play to set up third and four. Darian Stewart would break up a deep pass to Antonio Gates, but appears to re-injure his hamstring on the play.
Darian Stewart got injured on that pass breakup. Threw his helmet and mouth piece on the sidelines.— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) January 3, 2016
Stewart is confirmed as questionable to return with a hamstring injury.
With 90 seconds left in the first half, Osweiler hit a quick five yard pass to Thomas on first down. Then missed a wide open Thomas down the sideline that would have been an easy touchdown for Thomas. On third down, Osweiler would have all day to throw and hits a 34 yard strike to Norwood for the first down.
On the final play of the quarter, Ronnie Hillman would take the ball for a huge 21 yard run to set the Broncos up in the red zone to start the second quarter.