Finally! The Denver Broncos played like we thought they’d play back in Week 1. They scored over 30 points for the first time and Russell Wilson showed off the big play ability he has been known for his whole career. The result was a 31-28 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers that was not as close as the score suggested.
When the Broncos went up 31-20 midway through the fourth quarter, the Chargers finally began benching their starters in a game that had no meaning at all to their playoff seeding. Overall, it was the Broncos most impressive win of the season and one that will give us a little bit of encouragement this team is heading in the right direction going into the offseason.
Now we focus on the head coaching search.
The game began with both teams paying tribute to Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin. Each team’s No. 3 jersey’s, Russell Wilson and Derwin James, took a knee in the middle of the field before kickoff.
After the game began, however, the Chargers wasted no time with their starting offense on the field to march right down to put up a touchdown early. Justin Herbert would cap the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Allen.
Charging right down the field for 6️⃣— The 33rd Team (@The33rdTeamFB) January 8, 2023
( : @NFL) | #BoltUp
The Broncos offense answered with a long 75-yard drive of their own. Offensive Coordinator Justin Outten continued to impress with his playcalling choices. Russell Wilson did need a quarterback sneak to convert a fourth down, but the creative calls led to plenty of first downs and this two-yard touchdown by Latavius Murray to tie the game up.
All tied up.— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) January 8, 2023
: CBS | @LataviusM pic.twitter.com/4AuvK6cPG6
Late in the first quarter, rookie Ja’Quan McMillian showed everyone he could play in the NFL. After making a stop at the line of scrimmage, he would make a critical pass defense on a deep pass to Mike Williams on third down to send the ball back to the Broncos offense.
The teams would trade punts, but the Chargers got across midfield as the first quarter ended.
Broncos 7, Chargers 7.
The drive would continue all the way down to the Broncos three-yard line. On third and goal, Herbert would find Gerald Everett in the end zone to retake the lead, 14-7.
EVERETT CASHES ANYTIME TD (+260)— PFF Bet (@PFF_Bet) January 8, 2023
Justin Simmons got a big play off Austin Ekeler when he forced a fumble at midfield where Josey Jewell would recover.
The Broncos wasted no time getting into scoring range. On third and six, Wilson handed it off outside to Latavius Murray who took off for a 25-yard gain to the Chargers’ 20 yard line. The drive would stall from there, but Brandon McManus would add another field goal with under three minutes to go in the half.
Denver would force a punt, but a quick three and out by Russell Wilson and the Broncos’ offense gave Herbert and the Chargers enough time to drive down the field for a 48-yard field goal just before the end of the first half.
With less than 20 seconds to go, Wilson went with the YOLO ball deep to Jerry Jeudy who came down with it at the Chargers two-yard line for a 57-yard gain.
JERRY. JEUDY.— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) January 8, 2023
: CBS pic.twitter.com/s6sV4BFsRT
Wilson would hit Eric Tomlinson on the next play with less than five seconds in the half to tie the game up at halftime.
Broncos 17, Chargers 17.
Denver came out strong in the second half with chunk plays from Chase Edmonds on the ground, Jerry Jeudy on a screen, and then a pass outside to rookie running back Tyler Badie who rumbled 24-yards for the touchdowns to put the Broncos up 24-17 in the third quarter.
Certified Badie.™️— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) January 8, 2023
: CBS | @Only1Badie pic.twitter.com/oaWmfqvEty
Denver was driving again on another drive in the third quarter when Russell Wilson hit Jerry Jeudy for another massive gain. However, the 50-yard completion would for nothing as Wilson would have his pass tipped at the line and intercepted by a defensive lineman.
Justin Herbert and the Chargers would drive down into the red zone and settle for a 36-yard field goal to cut Denver’s lead to four.
Broncos 24, Chargers 20.
After Justin Simmons forced another fumble, this time at their own 10-yard line, Russell Wilson and the Broncos offense came up with another 50+ yard big pass play. This one went to Freddie Swain to the Chargers 25-yard line.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) January 8, 2023
: CBS pic.twitter.com/y1qHAGxJkx
Two plays later he found Courtland Sutton open in the back of the end zone to put the Broncos up 31-20.
Three TD passes for @DangeRussWilson today ‼️— NFL (@NFL) January 8, 2023
: #LACvsDEN on CBS
: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/TQNxFDPAzj pic.twitter.com/sD8KrNLUH9
Denver’s defense would force a three and out on Chase Daniel, who replaced Justin Herbert in the game, but a muffed punt by Brandon Johnson would get the Chargers back into the game.
After getting a quick pass to Keenan Allen for a one-yard touchdown, Daniel then found an open receiver in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion to cut the Broncos lead to 31-28.
The Broncos offense would be tasked to secure the win starting from their own four-yard line. A 21-yard run by Latavius Murray, a 12-yard run by Jerry Jeudy, and a 9-yard run by Murray again brought them to their own 46-yard line at the two minute warning. A first down from there and the Broncos would run out the clock and finish the season 5-12.
Broncos 31, Chargers 28.
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