Once again, we have a tale of two offenses in a game. For three quarters, the Denver Broncos offense sputtered and miscued their way to three points. The Los Angeles Chargers had just extended their lead to 16-3 and looked poised to walk away with an easy win with one quarter to go.
Instead, the Broncos defense began forcing three and outs and the Broncos offense began scoring points. They would tie the game up from a 52-yard field goal by Brandon McManus with just under three minutes to go in the game.
After such a stellar game defensively, they finally faltered late giving up big chunk play after big chunk play to give the Chargers a field goal with 41 seconds left in the game. Chargers beat the Broncos 19-16 to knock Denver to 5-10 on the season.
The Chargers offense did absolutely nothing in the first quarter, but a 53-yard kick off to start the game put them into field goal range that gave them a 3-0 lead early.
However, the story of the first half is how well the Broncos offense moved the ball. Drew Lock continued to be turnover prone as he threw another red zone interception after a very long opening drive.
That interception wasted a 14-play, 71-yard drive that consumed 7:45 of the clock.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) December 27, 2020
The quarter ended with the Broncos driving into Chargers territory again.
That drive would end within field goal range for Brandon McManus, but he ended with back to back doinks since the Chargers committed a penalty on the first one that would keep Denver scoreless in the first half.
Meanwhile, Justin Herbert got hot on the next drive and found Austin Ekeler in space against Josey Jewell for the easy touchdown and a 10-0 first half lead.
LA creates what amounts to a wall for Austin Ekeler and Jewell can't stop the touchdown. pic.twitter.com/H6YZpBR5JK— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 27, 2020
Los Angeles would add another field goal from there, while the Broncos offense continued to find ways to shoot themselves in the foot. They would go into half time down 13-0.
The Broncos defense played tough to start the second half and gave the offense a chance to get back into the game, but this missed opportunity between Drew Lock and Jerry Jeudy resulted in a 13-3 deficit instead of a 13-7 deficit.
Lock finds Jeudy to no avail and the Broncos have to kick. pic.twitter.com/fGTc1YdGlK— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 27, 2020
The Chargers then went all in on a fourth and eight conversion to catapult them towards the end of the third quarter. They would be faced with a third and goal from the two as the quarter ended.
After a defensive stand at the two yard line, the Broncos were down 16-3 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Drew Lock made good passes to DaeSean Hamilton and then again to Noah Fant to get the Broncos down near the Chargers 30 yard line on their next drive. Two plays later Lock nearly threw another interception on a pass that was well behind Troy Fumagalli. Denver would ultimately settle for a field goal.
Chargers 16, Broncos 6.
Shelby Harris got his seventh batted pass of the year - his second of the game - on the next drive to force the Chargers to punt the ball back to Denver.
Shelby Harris with a batted pass on 3rd down. pic.twitter.com/5GisKXKbVK— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 27, 2020
Jerry Jeudy was wide open deep for what could have been a 72-yard touchdown, but Drew Lock overthrew him by about a yard. Two plays later Jeudy did get the ball for a first down.
Three plays later, Denver was faced with a fourth down and seven with eight minutes left in the game. The decision to go for it was a no brainer. Lock found Tim Patrick down the field for a 27 yard gain to get them into field goal range.
Lock finds Tim Patrick on 4th and long for a Broncos first down! pic.twitter.com/f5BycIbeKv— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 27, 2020
The Broncos offense finally came to life from there as they capped the drive with a Drew Lock quarterback sneak from the one yard line after a completion to DaeSean Hamilton set up the first and goal.
Chargers 16, Broncos 13.
Herbert and the Chargers seem really good at throwing away games. Their next drive quickly found themselves in a third and 14 after another Shelby Harris tipped pass and almost sack.
Shelby Harris makes his presence known. pic.twitter.com/MemYdqoUEw— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 27, 2020
They would force the three and out with five and a half minutes left in the game.
Lock seemed to have woken up from the earlier struggles in the first three quarters. Under pressure, he found Noah Fant across the middle of the field for a 20 yard gain to the Chargers 38 yard line.
The offense went full turtle mode from there and the play calling was clearly playing for the long field goal attempt. McManus from 52-yards out nailed it to tie the game up with two and a half minutes to go.
Broncos 16, Chargers 16.
The Chargers needed just two plays before the two minute warning to go nearly 35 yards into Broncos territory. Austin Ekeler found a massive hole on the first play after the two minute warning for a 24 yard gain down to the Broncos 18 yard line. Dre’Mont Jones would end the drive with a sack to bring out the field goal unit.
Dre'Mont Jones gets home on 3rd and 5! pic.twitter.com/H93n67a3ky— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 27, 2020
After the field goal, the Chargers took the lead with 41 seconds left.
Chargers 19, Broncos 16.
Lock and the Broncos offense would have needed to drive 40 or so yards in 41 seconds to have a shot to tie the game back up before the end of regulation.
On first down, Lock threw one into the dirt to DaeSean Hamilton who was wide open then he hit Jerry Jeudy deep right in the hands who dropped it again. On third down, Lock went to Diontae Spencer who was double covered and dropped it during the collision.
They got the ball out to midfield, but rather than going for a 67-yard field goal attempt with 2 seconds left they went for the hail mary and it was intercepted.
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