Sweet smell of success

In arguably the biggest game in franchise history, the San Diego Chargers came out as the victors and now command the top of the AFC West.

Chargers Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Nothing too special this week, for the first time in a long time. Drew Brees was 14-of-27 for only 106 yards. He also had his first interception in a team-record 195 passes. The wet conditions didn't lead to throwing the ball, so the Chargers were content to lean more on the passing game. The pass blocking was pretty good, as Brees was sacked but twice. A couple drops, a couple misfired balls. Not the usual production, but enough to get a win.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- The run-blocking was good, but what was even better was the cutback ability of LaDainian Tomlinson. He scored twice and rushed for 113 yards as he continues to look better every week after battling that persistent groin injury. He's still not all the way back, but he is pretty close.

PASS DEFENSE: C- -- Four interceptions must be noted here. Drayton Florence was filling in for starter Sammy Davis and he got one. But there were also some pass completions downfield which causes concerns: a 45-yarder by Rod Smith, a 44-yarder by Ashley Lelie, a 39-yarder by Jeb Putzier. The pass rush was OK with two sacks. Jake Plummer wasn't forced from the pocket often, and that may be a good thing as it seems like he is more effective rolling out.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Denver backs gained but 69 yards, as the run defense showed up again after getting pushed around pretty good in Kansas City. LB Donnie Edwards had a career-high 20 tackles. Still, there were some red flags raised in the fourth quarter when the Broncos were able to connect on some big-chunk runs. DT Jamal Williams continues to shine in the middle.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- P Mike Scifres was sensational and that was important in a game which was played in sloppy conditions and the field-position battle was all-important. He had three punts downed inside the 20 and got off a career-long 60-yarder. Not much in the return games on either side. K Nate Kaeding, who entered the game missing three of his last six field goal attempts, nailed two from 23 yards.

COACHING: A -- Marty Schottenheimer's team hasn't played all that pretty the last three weeks, but they won anyway. In recent Chargers past, that wasn't always the case. He played things a little closer to the vest on Sunday, where the field conditions weren't good in the rain. Really, it was a throwback to Marty Ball, as Schottenheimer was fine with letting Tomlinson gobble up yards, the defense played tough and let the special teams win the field-position game.

Broncos Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Denver had four interceptions and completed under 50 percent of its passes. For most of the first three quarters, Jake Plummer looked like he was headed for the worst performance of his Broncos career. He rallied Denver in the fourth quarter, for which he deserves some credit, but then killed the Broncos' chances with an underthrown ball on a fade route that was tipped and intercepted.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D-minus -- Tatum Bell showed some flashes of his talent for the first time this season, but that's about all Denver had going for it on the ground. Denver has been held to under 100 yards rushing three times this season, and two of those times came against San Diego. Reuben Droughns was bottled up for most of the day.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- Drew Brees has played well against every team he has gone up against, except Denver. Brees' two worst passing days this season have been against the Broncos. He threw for a season-low 106 yards on Sunday. Denver took tight end Antonio Gates out of the game by being physical with him, and aside from a 30-yard reception by Eric Parker on the first play of the game, San Diego's receivers were held in check.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- LaDainian Tomlinson had 113 yards, but averaged under four yards a carry. Tomlinson was able to eat up some yards and the clock in the second half, but for the most part the Broncos didn't allow Tomlinson to beat them. There were a few missed tackles, but overall Denver can't complain about its run defense.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D-minus -- The Broncos were in bad field position most of the day. Micah Knorr didn't have a great day punting or kicking off. Jason Elam missed a field goal in the first quarter. Denver couldn't get any decent kickoff returns against San Diego's suspect coverage units. And a long punt return by San Diego's Eric Parker set up San Diego's second touchdown. It was not a good performance in any respect.

COACHING: C -- The Broncos didn't have any answers for San Diego's 3-4 defense, which stopped Denver's running game for the second time this season. An audible late in the game at San Diego's seven-yard line led to an interception after the Broncos put the decision in Plummer's hands and he switched from a run play to a pass. Denver's defensive game plan was very good, though. Defensive coordinator Larry Coyer put the players in position to slow down San Diego's offense, and Denver executed it well.

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