Broncos v. Chargers Report Card

How did the Denver Broncos grade out in their 39-38 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday?

PASSING OFFENSE: A -- The Broncos are going to pass the ball a lot this year. And they should, because their personnel is fit for it. Jay Cutler is turning into an elite quarterback, as he showed with a 350-yard performance against the Chargers. The receivers are stellar too, with Brandon Marshall catching 18 balls in his 2008 debut, Eddie Royal making two clutch catches to win the game and tight end Tony Scheffler having two touchdowns. The only blemish was Cutler's fourth-quarter interception, and he also got bailed out by a quick whistle on a fumble.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B - The Broncos had a solid day running the ball, gaining 145 yards on 24 carries. No back got more than eight carries, and expect that to continue to be the case. The Broncos will pass too much for numerous rushing attempts, and all three backs have carved out a niche. Especially impressive was Michael Pittman, who has been effective in his role as the goal-line back.

PASS DEFENSE: D - A lot of credit goes to Philip Rivers, the San Diego quarterback who simply had a fantastic day. But the Broncos' secondary didn't make many big plays, and gave up some huge gains. Rivers finished with 377 yards on 21 completions, and threw for three touchdowns, two of which were 48 and 66 yards. The Broncos also didn't get much of a pass rush on San Diego's 33 attempts.

RUSH DEFENSE: B - LaDainian Tomlinson had only 26 yards on 10 carries. Some of that was a toe injury that was obviously bothering him, but the Broncos defense did a good job surrounding him and not allowing him any big plays. Denver had a little more trouble with his shifty backup Darren Sproles, who had 53 yards on seven carries.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D - A 103-yard kickoff return by Sproles turned the momentum of the game after Denver took a 21-3 lead. The Broncos also gave up a long return in the season opener. Denver hasn't been able to make up for it in their own return game, which hasn't yielded any long returns.

COACHING: A - The decision to go for the two-point conversion at the end of the game will be discussed for a long time, but it was a calculated risk by Mike Shanahan. The Broncos' defense was tired after allowing 8.8 yards per play to San Diego, and he had to assume his own offense was wearing down after 75 plays. Rather than risk losing the coin toss in overtime, the Broncos took one play from two yards away, and score the game-winning conversion with 24 seconds left.



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