No blowout, Chargers still lose, 23-13

Looking to thwart the demons of history, the San Diego Chargers went into Denver looking for redemption. They would break the 66-0 hex by scoring three points in the first quarter and even stopped Denver two times inside the twenty to keep the halftime score manageable at 13-3. The Bolts stayed in the game but lost by ten, 23-13.

Denver looking for their usual fast start came within inches of getting it. After losing three yards on first and second down, Jake Plummer just missed a wide open Ashley Lelie. Lelie could have gone a long way before being brought down. It was three and out instead.

Rod Smith caught a crossing pattern with Sammy Davis trailing him by five yards and took it 32 yards to the San Diego 37 on the Broncos second series. Darius Watts caught another crossing route for eight yards. In a veteran savvy move, Smith faked another cross against Davis and went back towards the sidelines where he found himself without a defender close by. He would score from 16 yards out to give Denver the early 7-0 lead on a drive that went 72 yards in 3:27.

With nine guys in the box, Drew Brees handed off to LaDainian Tomlinson who threw a perfect strike back to Brees for a 38 yard gain to put the ball at the Denver 12. Tomlinson had just eight yards on seven carries to that point. The Chargers would not be able to bang it in and settled for a Nate Kaeding field goal from 23 yards out.

A 16 yard crossing route to Lelie opened up Denver's third series. It was followed by a key third down completion to Smith on another crossing route on Davis for a first down into San Diego territory. A screen onto the side the Chargers were blitzing from turned into a 22 yard gain for Quentin Griffin. Jerry Wilson made a touchdown saving tackle on the play. A 10 yard pass to Lelie put the ball at the Chargers 12. The Chargers stood fast with their backs against the wall and kept the Broncos to a 22 yard field goal from Jason Elam.

Kennoy Kennedy smacked a ball out of Brees' hands on the next series to give Denver the ball at the Chargers 28. Tomlinson and Toniu Fonoti missed the block on the blitzing Kennedy. A personal foul face mask penalty on a sack by Jamal Williams put the ball at the 13. The defense held again and Elam came on to boot a 23 yarder to put the Broncos up 13-3.

San Diego caught a break in the third quarter when Randall Godfrey recovered a fumble by Quentin Griffin, his third fumble in three games, at the Denver 36. It looked like Griffin simply lost the ball without getting hit and Godfrey was right in position to squeeze it in. Brees hit Kassim Osgood with his longest pass of the day, 17 yards, on third and eight. Brees then hit Eric Parker for 17 yards to get the ball down to the 2 yard line. After a short run by Tomlinson, Brees ran the ball in himself behind Nick Hardwick and Toniu Fonoti to bring the Chargers within three, 13-10.

After forcing the Broncos to punt late in the third quarter, Kassim Osgood tried to block the ensuing punt and nailed Micah Knorr. A 15 yard roughing the kicker call gave the Broncos new life. The Chargers forced the Broncos into 4th and nine at the 32 and rather than kick the field goal, the Broncos went for it. Plummer rolled out to his right and threw the ball into the end zone where Lelie made a beautiful catch over Quentin Jammer for a touchdown, 20-10 Denver.

Brees hit four straight passes for 36 yards but the drive stalled at the Denver 32. Kaeding then hit a 51 yard field goal – the longest of his young career to bring the Bolts within seven.

Reuben Droughns returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield and Plummer hit Watts for a 17 yard gain to quickly put the ball at the Chargers 33. After getting down to the 25, Elam connected from 43 yards out to put Denver back up by ten.

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