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Broncos at Chargers third quarter recap

The Denver Broncos offense went into hibernation in the third quarter as the Los Angeles Chargers got their special teams in action to cut the lead to 17-7 to start the fourth quarter.

Denver Broncos v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

A short kick from Brandon McManus almost broke free, but was quickly pushed out of bounds and a penalty on the play pushed the Los Angeles Chargers back to their own 12-yard line.

A four-yard gain on first down, then a swing pass to Austin Ekeler that went nowhere setup a third and six. Philip Rivers, from the shotgun, went to Keenan Allen. There was a miscommunication as the ball fell harmlessly in the middle of the field to force a punt.

Diontae Spencer had a nice punt return out to midfield, but an illegal block in the back negated that. However, Phillip Lindsay got all of those yards back with a 16-yard scamper on first down to the Chargers 49-yard line.

After a one yard loss on the next play, Joe Flacco found Courtland Sutton over the middle for a short five-yard gain. On third and six, Flacco hit Lindsay on a swing pass for four yards to force a fourth down.

The Broncos were going for it, but Dalton Risner made a rookie mistake on a false start to bring out the punt unit. Fred Brown had a chance to down the punt at the one-yard line, but the ball doinked off his face mask and into the end zone.

Rivers started off the next drive with two nice pass plays and a short one to get the Chargers out to the 50-yard line. Von Miller met Melvin Gordon immediately at the line of scrimmage for no gain to force a third and seven.

From the shotgun, Rivers went to his tight end with Will Parks in coverage for the incomplete pass. Miller was draped over Rivers as he threw it to force the punt.

The Broncos would get the ball on the next possession at their own nine-yard line. Flacco was sacked on second down at his own four-yard line. On third and 14, Flacco handed off to Royce Freeman who actually found a crease for an 11-yard gain, but the punt unit still came out.

A quick three and out by the Chargers ended any notion of getting back into it in the third quarter as Miller and Malik Reed crashed inside to stop Melvin Gordon three yards short of the first down marker.

From their own four-yard line, the Broncos kept it conservative until a tipped Flacco pass ended up in the hands of a Chargers defender at the Broncos seven-yard line for a first and goal.

Three plays later, the Broncos defense did another thing they haven’t done all season - made a play. Alexander Johnson, who hasn’t been active all season, intercepted Philip Rivers in the end zone to keep momentum on Denver’s side.

On the ensuing punt, the Chargers scored a touchdown with flags on the field. The refs decided the block in the back they saw and threw the flag for, wasn’t actually a block in the back. The touchdown stood as the Broncos get screwed over by a bad call again.

Broncos 17, Chargers 7.

On to the fourth quarter.