Broncos Report Card vs. San Diego

The grades are in on the Broncos loss in San Diego and it isn't pretty. Check out what the experts had to say...


PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Quarterback Jay Cutler completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes for the first time all season. Denver had trouble protecting Cutler, who took off and ran a few times in the second half to avoid further punishment. Cutler was off as well, missing throws he usually makes. He also didn't get much luck -- on a third-quarter interception he threw a pass that hit tight end Tony Scheffler in the hands and bounced to safety Clinton Hart.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- Cutler's scrambles were worth 42 yards and the top spot on the Broncos' rushing list. Selvin Young was ineffective, with 39 yards on 10 carries. Travis Henry still doesn't look like he did early in the season. He had 11 yards on four carries. Without a running game, the Broncos became one dimensional. Then, in the fourth quarter, Cecil Sapp couldn't gain a first down on two carries when the Broncos had third-and-two at San Diego's 3-yard line.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- Philip Rivers was efficient against Denver's pass defense, completing 17 of 25 passes for 189 yards. The Broncos wanted to take away tight end Antonio Gates, who had a big game against Denver in the first meeting, so they often shaded a safety to his side. That was no problem for San Diego, which completed 10 passes to wide receivers, including a touchdown to Chris Chambers that gave the Chargers a 23-0 lead.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- The final numbers looked better than the whole because Chargers running backs Darren Sproles and Michael Turner were ineffective. But LaDainian Tomlinson had a nice day, gaining 107 yards on 19 carries before taking an early leave. The Broncos need to upgrade their run defense in the offseason.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- Punter Paul Ernster had a game that everyone would like to forget. He averaged 35.6 yards per punt, a number that was inflated because of a 59-yard punt when he got a fortunate roll. Mike Shanahan, who was clearly frustrated with Ernster after the game, might not give Ernster another chance to kick this week. Ernster was signed to replace Todd Sauerbrun, who was cut.

COACHING: D -- The Broncos were outscored by San Diego 64-6 this season. They were competitive for their first drive Monday, when they drove inside San Diego's 20-yard line, but then were deflated when that drive ended with a fumble. And don't be fooled by the final score -- it was 23-0 early in the third quarter, and the Chargers started substituting to make sure their starters stayed healthy for the playoffs.

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