A huge pass interference penalty on Quentin Jammer on third and ten cost the Chargers dearly in the first quarter. Although the ball appeared to be tipped at the line by Marcellus Wiley, the penalty was still called on Jammer. Jammer was all over his man before turning to see the ball and bat it down. It cost the Bolts 16 yards and a stop. Clinton Portis then took over. Portis took a ball left and when Donnie Edwards and the whole defensive line provided containment, he reversed field to gain 25 yards before Wiley tackled him. Portis again went left and found running room as Ben Leber got caught too far outside, scrambling for 15 yards. One play later, Plummer faked to Portis and ran a bootleg left, finding a wide open Reuben Droughns for a touchdown from 12 yards out, 7-0 Denver.
San Diego had a golden opportunity to tie the game up at seven on their first drive, but had to settle for a 19 yard field goal from Steve Christie to make it 7-3. LaDainian Tomlinson had runs of 17, 11 and nine to open the drive. Then Eric Parker, starting for the injured David Boston, caught an 11 yard slant on a perfect throw from Brees. With first and goal to go, a crucial illegal formation cost the Bolts a touchdown.
Denver came right back with their second possession and put it in the end zone again. Clinton Portis setup the strike with a 58 yard scamper. Running right, Portis cut it back left as Jerry Wilson came up to make the tackle. Wilson, however, overran the play and Portis saw daylight until he was pushed out of bounds by Quentin Jammer. With Portis running so well, Plummer ran play action from the one yard line and found Shannon Sharpe sneaking across the line and wide open for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead. The touchdown by Sharpe was the tenth of his career against San Diego.
Portis, up to this point already has passed the 100 yard barrier with seven carries for 110 yards. Portis sat out the second half with a bruised chest. He did get his tenth 100-yard rushing performace in his 18th game.
Denver continued its mastery of the Chargers defense in the second quarter. With great field position to open the drive, the Broncos took advantage of second year man Quentin Jammer, The Broncos threw three passes his way, and all went for completions. On fourth down inside the 10, Plummer ran a naked bootleg and dove past a pursuing Wiley and Moreno for a first. The Plummer hit offensive lineman Cooper Carlisle, ruled eligible for the play, for a touchdown to put the Broncos up by 18, 21-3. Carlisle sold the play by blocking Ray Lee Johnson for a few seconds before dropping into his "route". He was wide open for the easy score.
San Diego came right back, with a minute before halftime, to score and make the score 21-10. It started by getting Tim Dwight into the game with a pass for a first down. He then ran a double reverse that went 19 yards. The play happened largely due to a great block by Drew Brees on Al Wilson. After a huge run by Tomlinson was negated by a holding call on Jason Ball, the Chargers were faced with a fourth down and four. The Bolts needed some confidence and went for it. Brees hit a streaking Parker on a crossing route for a first down and the drive remained alive. Brees went back to the well and hit Parker again, this time in the end zone between two defenders, for a touchdown.
The Chargers could not hold the Broncos in the final minute. Steve Beuerlein, subbing for an injured Jake Plummer, hit Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie for 18 and 25 yards, respectively, to setup a Jason Elam 30 yard field goal, 24-10 at halftime.
A 17 yard pass from Brees to Justin Peelle, with six rushes for 42 yards by Tomlinson to open the second half drive by the Bolts put them quickly into the red zone. Inside the 10, Brees threw a perfect pass to Tim Dwight in the right front corner of the end zone, but Dwight dropped the pass. Then Brees missed an open Parker in the back of the end zone as his pass sailed high and behind him, incomplete. Christie kicked a 24 yard field goal to make it 24-13.
After every Chargers score, the Broncos come back and drain the energy from them. Droughns started it off with a 36 yard return on the kickoff to the Denver 49. A third and 18 pass interference call to Sammy Davis on Lelie gave Denver a first. That was followed by a defensive holding call. Beuerlein eventually hit Sharpe down around the five yard line. Sharpe never saw the ball as he spun around he just happened to stick out a hand and it dropped into it. It was an amazing catch. Mike Anderson eventually ran it in to make the score 31-13.
Jason Elam kicked a 45 yard field goal minutes later after getting the ball in San Diego territory on a punt. Mike Anderson ran 20 yards to set it up, beating a blitz and making many Chargers miss tackles.
A batted pass by Brett Berry that fell into the waiting hands of Ian Gold setup the next Denver scoring drive. They got the ball at the SD 25 yard line and settled for a Elam 34 yard field goal pushing the Denver lead to 37-13.
Reche Caldwell left the game in the second quarter of the game with a dislocated wrist. It is unclear how much time he will miss.
Stephen Alexander strained his groin on the first ball thrown his way. He did not return and his future status for the season could be in jeopardy.
Shannon Sharpe caught his tenth touchdown against San Diego in his career.
Mike Shanahan is now 15-5 against the Charger in his career.
The Chargers have allowed over 130 yards rushing in eight of the past eleven games.
Mike Scifres, Tay Cody, Matt Wilhelm, Courtney VanBuren, Jacques Cesaire, Josh Norman, David Boston, and Otis Leverette.
Active but did not play:
Doug Flutie, Leon Johnson, Bob Hallen, and Phil Bogle
Denis Savage can be reached at email@example.com
Denver Broncos 37 San Diego Chargers 13
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