The Denver Broncos came into this game with a coaching staff needing to coach for their jobs in 2022. From shockingly poor play calling from Pat Shurmur, to more dumb challenges from Vic Fangio, to whatever the hell Tom McMahon is doing, they all but coached themselves out of jobs on Sunday during a 34-13 dismantlement by the Los Angeles Chargers.
If I were GM George Paton, I’d start on Monday. At least two coordinators could be dismissed immediately and I think they would end up fielding a better team come next Sunday. They won’t. Accountability isn’t a word these Denver Broncos know anymore.
Not usually a fan of in-season coach firings, but I think a Monday dismissal of Pat Shurmur would make this a better football team heading into the final week.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) January 2, 2022
The Broncos won the opening coin toss and elected to defer only to have their special teams unit give up a 47 yard kick off return to start the game. That would set the Chargers up nicely to drive right down the field for the opening drive touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.
Denver avoided a few near interceptions in the first quarter, but did flop on a fourth down attempt taking a sack to give the Chargers the ball on the wrong side of the field. Drew Lock suffered a shoulder injury and left the game late in the first quarter, which brought Brett Rypien into the game.
Chargers 7, Broncos 0.
The Chargers would cap a second scoring drive early in the second quarter to go up 10-0. However, Drew Lock would return to the game as well and immediately connect on a yolo ball to Courtland Sutton who would come down with the pass within field goal range.
On Lock's first play after injury he connects with Courtland Sutton deep downfield pic.twitter.com/pOn8KTj99a— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) January 2, 2022
Denver would end up with a first and goal inside the five yard line, but Pat Shurmur dialed up a pass play behind the line of scrimmage that went nowhere, then back to back runs that gained very little. Then on fourth and goal from the two, Shurmur - in all his wisdom - dialed up a Kendall Hinton pass to Drew Lock that ended just as you could imagine. The Chargers took over from their own two yard line.
It went from bad to worse after the Broncos defense forced a three and out punt from the Chargers own end zone. Diontae Spencer would muff the punt and give the ball right back to the Chargers with great field position.
Los Angeles would march down the field and put up another touchdown just before halftime to take a commanding lead into the second half.
Lock and the Broncos got two big chunk plays off in under 20 seconds to setup a 61-yard field goal attempt from Brandon McManus that he nailed at halftime.
Chargers 17, Broncos 3.
With that momentum, the Broncos began the second half gashing the Chargers defense with the ground game. However, in all his wisdom, Pat Shurmur decided to throw every down straight into a punt after the run game got them out to midfield.
The Chargers then regained all of the momentum marching down the field for a game-clinching score. Denver’s defense refuses to give up points stopping the Chargers from the end zone on seven tries inside the 10 yard line, but Los Angeles still went up 20-3 midway through the third quarter.
Denver got things going on the first play of their next drive with Noah Fant taking a short pass upfield for a 35-yard gain into field goal range.
Lock dumps it down to Noah Fant, who goes ham after the catch pic.twitter.com/1QLxWFtALR— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) January 2, 2022
The third quarter would come to an end with the Broncos facing a 4th and goal from the one yard line.
Chargers 20, Broncos 3.
Denver ended up scoring a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, but the play was negated by an inexplicable illegal formation penalty. The McManus field goal would cut the lead to 20-6.
That would end the competitive phase of this game as Broncos’ special teams coordinator Tom McMahon gave up a 101-yard return on the next kickoff and the game would be over from there. If you were smart, you turned the game off after that.
Chargers 34, Broncos 13.
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