Peyton Manning got off to a rough start with the Denver Broncos. He and the team found themselves down at 2-3 and facing a critical road game on Monday Night Football against a dangerous San Diego Chargers team. Philip Rivers and the Chargers came out on fire streaking out to a 24-0 halftime lead.
It was the low point of Manning’s return after missing all of 2011 to injury. As a fan, I remember feeling like the Broncos may have gotten a washed up Brett Favre during his final season with the Minnesota Vikings. It was a foolish thought in hindsight, but such is life with the weekly ups and downs of a long regular season.
The first half was a bit of a comedy of errors with two separate special teams muffed kicks and the famous Eric Decker gopher trip.
Down 24-0 and putting those mistakes behind them, Manning and the Broncos would get the ball to start the second half and made sure that drive would be a statement kind of drive for the whole team.
He would drive the offense down the field in 8 plays for 85 yards that would be capped by a 29-yard strike to Demaryius Thomas for the first points of the game for Denver.
From there, it was Rivers and the Chargers turn to produce a comedy of errors. The first came soon after that Broncos touchdown. After looking like they would be answering the Broncos scoring drive with a scoring drive of their own, things fell apart.
On third and eight in field goal range, Rivers would be stripped and Tony Carter would scoop for the long return to cut the Chargers lead to 24-14.
Another long drive ate up the rest of the third quarter and into the early fourth. A quick toss outside saw Eric Decker find redemption as he rough and tumbled his way into the end zone to cut the Chargers lead to three points. Rivers would take a shot on his next drive and find Tony Carter again who intercepted and returned it to midfield.
Manning wasted no time to get the lead for Denver for the first time in this game. It took just four plays for Manning to throw an incredible pass over the top to Brandon Stokley for the 21-yard touchdown pass and the 28-24 lead.
“What a throw. What a comeback.”
It wouldn’t be right to wrap this up without showing the GIF that encapsulates Philip Rivers’ career so well. Down by four and needing a big drive to take the game away from the visiting team, Rivers throws a pick six to Chris Harris Jr.
The Broncos would go on to win ten-straight games to finish 13-3 and AFC West champions, while the Chargers would lose six of seven and would never recover.