Things got off to a nice start as the Denver Broncos won the coin toss and chose to defer to bring the Los Angeles Chargers out onto the field first. It seems they rarely win the toss, so we’ll choose to see that as a good sign.
The kick by Brandon McManus was short and the Chargers were able to return it all the way to the Broncos 40-yard line.
Justin Herbert and the Chargers offense wasted no time getting into field goal range with a quick strike to the Denver 25. Two plays later on third and four, Herbert went to Mike Williams was nearly intercepted by Josey Jewell who stepped into the passing lane.
Josey Jewell almost had a pick for the #Broncos on 3rd and 4. pic.twitter.com/pvBdx2PN6E— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 27, 2020
Chargers 3, Broncos 0.
On the ensuing kickoff, LeVante Bellamy who was recently called up from the practice squad committed a penalty to push the Broncos back to start at their own 14-yard line.
Drew Lock hit Jerry Jeudy on first down for a six yard gain, then Melvin Gordon rushed up the middle for another six yards and a first down. He would carry on the next down for six yards to set up a second and four. Lock would hit Tim Patrick for a quick five yards and another first down.
Bellamy got into the action on the next play with a seven yard pick up as the Broncos offense seems to be clicking early in the game. He would be stuffed on second down, but Lock found Patrick again on a quick crossing route across midfield for the first down.
On first down, Lock didn’t like what he saw downfield and took off running for a six yard gain. KJ Hamler took a jet sweep and was hit hard near the first down marker and looked like he might have suffered a concussion. Lock would run the keeper for the first down on the next play.
Gordon broke loose from there with a big 17-yard gain into the red zone at the Chargers 20 yard line. After a near miss to the end zone to Noah Fant, Lock threw one of the ugliest interceptions of the season to kill the drive.
That interception wasted a 14-play, 71-yard drive that consumed 7:45 of the clock.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) December 27, 2020
The Broncos defense had a chance to force a three and out on the next drive, but an illegal contact penalty by De’Vante Bausby on third down gave the Chargers an automatic first down.
Shelby Harris made up for it with his sixth pass deflection of the season. The drive would end one play later as the Chargers were forced to punt it away.
Alexander Johnson rushes Herbert and the Broncos' defense holds on 3rd and 6. pic.twitter.com/xc223nwbbT— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 27, 2020
Diontae Spencer got a 15 yard punt return out of it to set Lock and the Broncos offense up with great field position.
Back to back runs by Melvin Gordon setup a third and three at the Chargers 48 yard line. Lock, double clutched, but was able to get the ball into Noah Fant for the first down. Two plays later he first quarter would end with the Broncos facing a third and nine.