The Denver Broncos defense came out strong in the first quarter with two interceptions on Philip Rivers and holding the Los Angeles Chargers to no points. Unfortunately, the Broncos offense came out and did the usual things they do like knocking themselves out of field goal range with an offensive holding penalty and many, many punts.
Fortunately, the offense woke up some on the next possession to start the second quarter to quickly find themselves out past midfield with a first down at the Chargers 46-yard line. Royce Freeman was in the mix frequently to get them that far, but that would be as far as the offense would get.
Royce Freeman with four receptions for 23 yards in early going. He's always possessed three-down skills. Bill Musgrave was so terribly un-creative with the guy this season. And, no, this is not a knock on Philip Lindsay.— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) December 30, 2018
Case Keenum got the ball within reach of Courtland Sutton deep, but the ball flew threw his hands incomplete to bring out another punt for the Broncos.
Colby Wadman continued to earn his paycheck to pin the Chargers at their own 10-yard line to start their next drive. The Chargers quickly found themselves out to their own 35-yard line before being faced with a third and 10 coming up a yard short for yet another punt.
The Broncos got things going on the next drive, with Royce Freeman touching the ball on half of the Broncos first 24 offensive plays. The game was nearly broken wide open with a 54-yard touchdown run by Devontae Booker, but it was called back by another offensive holding call.
Garett Bolles, Billy Turner, and Connor McGovern had the trifecta of holding calls in the first half up to this point in the first half. Bolles would be called with his second holding call on back-to-back plays to kill all momentum for the Broncos.
On first and 30, Keenum threw a backwards pass in the dirt to Freeman that was scooped and scored on by the Chargers to blow the game wide open for Los Angeles.
Garett Bolles could have been called for a third straight hold, but instead the #Chargers scored.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 30, 2018
Chargers 7, Broncos 0.
The Broncos next drive saw Tim Patrick go down with an injury, making River Cracraft the teams #3 wide receiver. Keenum wasted little time lobbing a ball up into double coverage at the five-yard line where Cracraft came down with it for the first and goal opportunity.
DaeSean Hamilton dropped an easy pass that would have been a touchdown on first down. On second down, the Broncos ignored any semblance of running it and it followed another incomplete pass by Keenum. The predictable third down interception came next, but then the Chargers did something even more dumb and the Broncos ended up with the ball back at the 20-yard line.
First and goal at the 5. Three straight passes ending in an interception. Then the Chargers defender did something stupid. lol Broncos ball at the 20. Maybe they'll run it this time...— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) December 30, 2018
The Chargers defender attempted to lateral to a teammate and the fumble was recovered by the Broncos.
After getting the ball down to the Chargers nine yard line with a few checkdowns, Keenum kept things in front him with a short pass underneath for four yards. On second down with 33 seconds to go, Keenum hit Booker on another checkdown for a one-yard gain.
On third down, Keenum wisely took the sack to bring out Brandon McManus for the field goal to get the first half over with.
Chargers 7, Broncos 3.