Broncos - Chargers Final Game Notes

With their running game completely shut down, the Denver Broncos hold on just long enough for a 23-13 win over the San Diego Chargers.

Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers
Invesco Field
Denver, Colorado





Denver 7 6 7 3 23
San Diego 3 0 7 3 13

R.Smith, 16-yard pass from Plummer, 6 plays, 72-yards in 3:15
SAN DIEGO - Nate Kaeding, 23-yard field goal, 11 plays, 70-yards in 5:57
DENVER - Jason Elam, 22-yard field goal, 11 plays, 70-yards in 4:54
DENVER - Jason Elam, 23-yard field goal, 6 plays, 23-yards in 3:14
SAN DIEGO - D. Brees, 1-yard run, 7 plays, 36-yards in 3:40
DENVER - A. Lelie, 33-yard pass from Plummer, 9 plays, 64-yards in 4:08
SAN DIEGO - Nate Kaeding, 51-yard field goal, 10 plays, 41-yards in 4:23
DENVER - Jason Elam, 43-yard field goal, 6 plays, 25-yards in 2:54

1st Half Notes -
After a stalled first drive, the Broncos offense wakes up, marching 72-yards for their first touchdown of the game. The drive was highlighted by a 32-yard reception by Rod Smith, putting the ball on the San Diego 37-yard line. Smith scored his first touchdown of the season moments later on a 16-yard pass from Plummer, giving the Broncos an early 7-0 lead.

The Chargers followed up on their next possession as Nate Kaeding connects on a 23-yard field goal. San Diego's offense opened up with a mixture of runs and passes, then connected on a huge gain of 38-yards as Drew Brees handed off to LaDanian Tomlinson, who then threw a pass back to Brees, who raced down to the Broncos 12-yard line. The Chargers scoring drive covered 70-yards in 11 plays.

Two successive trips inside the red zone and the Broncos offense fails to find the end zone, settling for back to back Elam field goals, 22 and 23-yards respectively, giving Denver a 13-3 lead midway through the half.

The Broncos defense tightened up on the Chargers following possession, forcing a San Diego punt, which Denver took as a touchback on their own 20-yard line.

Three plays later the Broncos found themselves facing a third down with less than a yard to go. A quarterback sneak up the middle appeared to have made the first down, but officials spotted the ball inches short, forcing the Broncos into a fourth down situation from their own 29-yard line. Mike Shanhan challenged the call but the ruling was upheld and Denver was forced to punt with just under three minutes and one timeout remaining in the half.

San Diego fields the punt at their own 14-yard line, and fails to amount any type of offensive threat, punting to Denver with 1:31 remaining.

Although the Broncos are able to move the ball to their own 43-yard line, they stall in the closing seconds with miscommunication between Shanahan and Plummer. With one time out remaining the Broncos fail to call it, instead Plummer attempts to spike the ball but the clock winds down and Denver ends the first half on a sour note, despite holding a 13-3 first half lead.

2nd Half Notes -
After San Diego stalls on their initial drive of the second half, the Broncos field a punt at their own 10-yard line. On their first play of the second half Plummer connect with Jeb Putzier for a 24-yard gain, giving Denver some breathing room at the 34-yard line, and a short burst of momentum. That feeling didn't last long however, as Quentin Griffin grabs a 2-yard toss from Plummer and fumbles for the third consecutive week, giving San Diego fantastic field position at the Denver 36-yard line.

Seven plays later Chargers quarterback Drew Brees sneaks it in from the 1-yard line and the Chargers cut the lead 13-10.

Looking to regroup the Broncos offense catches a huge break when a roughing the kicker penalty gives them a second chance. With possession at the San Diego 33-yard line Denver's fourth down gamble pays off as Plummer connects with Ashley Lelie for his first touchdown catch of the season, giving the Broncos a 20-10 third quarter lead.

San Diego responds moments into the fourth quarter as Nate Kaeding connects for a 51-yard field goal, narrowing Denver's lead to 20-13. The drive covered 41-yards over 10 plays.

A 48-yard kick return by Reuben Droughns gives Denver excellent field position and once again they capitalize with an Elam field goal, this one from 43-yards out, eating up nearly three minutes off the clock to extend the Broncos lead to 23-13.

The final eleven minutes of the quarter finds both offensive units struggling and unable to score.

The most disappointing aspect of the game was the highly anticipated matchup at the running back position. Both Quentin Griffin and LaDanian Tomlinson were never able to break out, Tomlinson finishing with 60-yards on 22 carries and Griffin, having the worst game of his brief NFL career, finishing with only 7-yards on 12 carries.

To date, Tomlinson has never broken 100-yard against Denver at Invesco Field.

While they improved to 2-1, secured of at least a tie atop the AFC West, the Broncos must look to make considerable improvements on the offensive side of the ball before they head out on the road to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday.

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