Denver trailed 20-17 at halftime against the Chargers, and the score was only that close because Eddie Royal returned two kicks for touchdowns. The switch turned on at halftime. Philip Rivers, who had 172 yards in the first half and was in control of the game, passed for only 102 yards after halftime and didn't lead a touchdown drive.
Denver's offense was also more efficient in the second half, outscoring San Diego 17-3 for a 34-23 win to get a strong lock on the AFC West at 6-0.
One main reason the Broncos have been so good after halftime this season has been conditioning. Strength and conditioning coach Rich Tuten was one of the few coaches retained by Josh McDaniels, and he has been lauded for his work with the team.
Denver often runs sprints after practice -- an old-school philosophy that has paid off.
"Rich Tuten did a great job with us this year, getting guys in condition, knowing this is the way football was supposed to be played. It's all about playing hard in the second half when it really counts and guys have to step up, and I think we demonstrate that," outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil said.
Being in good condition is multiplied in the altitude at home games. The Broncos dominated Dallas in the second half of their Week 4 game, and the altitude and conditioning might have played a role.
"I know (the Cowboys) were tired, you could see it on the sideline, they were winded in the second half of the game," McDaniels said. "We kind of wore down Cleveland a little bit, we wore down Dallas a little bit last week in the second half. Whether that's the Broncos playing better football and playing better at the end or the other team having a little bit of an issue with their conditioning, I don't know. But it's certainly different air, I can guarantee you that."
McDaniels said he plans to have the team continue to run after practice the entire season to remain in top shape. He and his coaching staff have also been excellent at halftime adjustments, which is another big reason the Broncos have played so well in the second half.
--Eddie Royal's punt and kickoff returns for touchdowns in the same game were a first in franchise history. The scores also were the biggest difference in a huge win. The Broncos beat the Chargers by 11 points and took a three-and-a-half game lead in the division.
"It's tough to lose when you score twice on special teams," quarterback Kyle Orton said.
--The Broncos got almost the entire week off during the bye. They watched some film for a short time on Wednesday and then were excused.
"I didn't feel like it was in our best interest to go out there and do a lot of practice this week, and we didn't," McDaniels said.
--Just because the Broncos are off to a 6-0 start doesn't mean McDaniels thinks his team is perfect. He mentioned three major areas he wants to improve: short-yardage running situations, starting games faster, and a punt return allowed for a touchdown against San Diego.
"We have a lot of little things we'd like to do better, and some big things," McDaniels said.
BY THE NUMBERS: 10 -- Sacks for outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil. He is the second-fastest player to 10 sacks in a season, behind Giants' Michael Strahan's 10.5 sacks through six games in 2001.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They're going to send people to test us to see what's going on in here." -- Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
One of the keys for the Broncos' fast start has been the lack of change. The Broncos amazingly have not made one transaction since the season began. No practice squad changes, no tinkering to the end of the roster, no injured reserve moves.
The Broncos have also been very lucky with minor injuries. The team has had the same starting 11 on defense in all six games, and missed only a few starts on offense with minor injuries.
--LB Darrell Reid has just six tackles this season, but three sacks. He has done a great job in a situational role, coming off the edge in passing situations.
--LB Robert Ayers got some experience in the base defense, going in at left outside linebacker when Mario Haggan missed a few plays with a minor knee injury. The Broncos won't want to make many changes with the team playing well, which is a main reason Ayers will stay in a situational role on passing downs.
--OT Ryan Clady, who started his career by not allowing a full sack in his first 20 games, has given up a sack in each of the last two games. Clady is still playing at a high level and should continue to be one of the best left tackles in the NFL.
--RB Knowshon Moreno hasn't had many explosive plays, but he's been consistent. Denver has had negative yardage only eight times on 181 carries not counting kneel-downs, which is the best percentage in the NFL.
--P Brett Kern drew the ire of special teams coordinator Mike Priefer and got a talking to from Josh McDaniels after San Diego's Darren Sproles returned a punt for a touchdown. Kern has been good at times this season but a bit inconsistent.
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