Short-Handed Bolts Backhand Broncos

The San Diego Chargers bested the Denver Broncos, 35-14, improving their overall record to 5-5 and their home record to 4-1. The Chargers hope their newfound momentum will carry them through the rest of the schedule, which includes three more AFC West games.

Despite the absences of Vincent Jackson (roster exempt list), Legedu Naanee (hamstring), Antonio Gates (foot), Ryan Mathews (ankle) and Steve Gregory (shoulder), the Chargers dwarfed the Broncos and demonstrated why their offense and defense rank so highly.

The Chargers piled up 400 yards of total offense while the defense came up with five sacks and an interception while holding the Broncos to 235 total net yards.

Several Chargers flourished in their teammates' absence, including Malcom Floyd, who returned to the field after missing several games with a hamstring injury. He helped the Chargers dig out of an early 7-0 deficit with a 6-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.

Floyd can thank another comeback kid for the opportunity.

With San Diego's offense sputtering and facing a second consecutive stalled drive, Mike Scifres was given the go-ahead for a fake punt. Scifres, who has been beat up in recent weeks, kept the Chargers moving with a 28-yard pass to Mike Tolbert.

With one pass, Scifres threw for more yards than Philip Rivers did in his first seven attempts.

While Floyd capitalized following the gadget play, Rivers took the chance to control the Broncos from then on. Rivers got plenty of help from Patrick Crayton, who led the team with 105 receiving yards before leaving in the second quarter with a wrist injury.

Losing another weapon didn't phase Rivers, who hit Darren Sproles for a 57-yard score in the third quarter and Jacob Hester for a 3-yard TD in the fourth.

Rivers has now thrown for four touchdowns in back-to-back weeks, becoming just the second player in Chargers history to accomplish that feat.

The offense wasn't all about the aerial attack. San Diego racked up 147 yards on the ground, led by Tolbert's second 100-yard game (111 yards on 25 carries).


LB Larry English
Kevork Djanseziant/Getty
On defense, San Diego's defensive backs got the party started. Eric Weddle squashed a possible touchdown throw intended for Brandon Lloyd. One play later, Antoine Cason followed in Weddle's footsteps when he picked off Kyle Orton and brought it back 27 yards. The secondary's back-to-back stops continued to help change the tide for the Chargers, who scored 35 points before the Broncos got back on the board.

Shaun Phillips also helped keep Orton off balance with a pair of sacks. Larry English also chipped in his first sack since returning from foot surgery, while Cam Thomas and Vaughn Martin added the first sacks of their respective careers .

The win keeps the Chargers chugging along in a still-winnable division. San Diego's remaining schedule includes the 6-4 Indianapolis Colts, the .500 Oakland Raiders, the division-leading Kansas City Chiefs, the struggling San Francisco 49ers, the two-win Cincinnati Bengals and a Denver rematch to cap off the regular season.



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