PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Neither Drew Brees nor Philip Rivers had much success against the Broncos, as together they threw for but 183 yards and one interception. Much of the blame here can be attributed to the pass-blocking, which never got comfortable picking up the numerous Broncos blitzes; the Chargers allowed six sacks. The Chargers' longest completion was 22 yards, as they continued to have difficulty getting the ball downfield.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for a score and 92 yards, but most of his work can be attributed to his own skills. The run-blocking continued its month-long slide as it was unable to open many -- any? -- holes for him.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- The Chargers allowed a season-low 98 yards and no touchdowns. But really that number can be traced to the ease in which the Broncos were able to run the ball. And once the Broncos got ahead 16-7 in the third quarter and had backup Bradlee Van Pelt in the game, they turned their nose up at passing the ball.
RUSH DEFENSE: F -- Chargers gave up a season-high 157 rushing yards, with Tatum Bell collecting 52 of them to go with three touchdowns. The Broncos chose to assign just one blocker on NT Jamal Williams, freeing up a body to go bang a linebacker.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus -- The coverage units were solid, maybe turning in one of their best games of the season. But the return game has been stuck in neutral for some time; Darren Sproles did have a 26-yard kickoff return. Three of Mike Scifres' punts were downed inside the 20-yard-line.
COACHING: F -- It was an epic pratfall, as the season-ending loss made it three of four defeats down the stretch for the once highly regarded Chargers. Despite having nothing to play for, the Broncos easily showed more intensity and determination as the Chargers fell behind early and never recovered. San Diego seemed disinterested, and it showed in losing for the fourth time at home this season.
Broncos Report Card:
PASSING OFFENSE: D -- The Broncos didn't pass the ball well in the first quarter or when backup Bradlee Van Pelt played in the second half. Van Pelt completed only two passes for 7 yards after halftime. Denver completed a few passes to keep some drives going in the second quarter.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Van Pelt didn't throw the ball well, but the kept the offense moving by running for 41 yards. Ron Dayne had 64 yards rushing in the second half, and Tatum Bell had three touchdowns. The only problem was Bell didn't have many yards in his first career start against a tough Chargers defense.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- The Broncos made a few big plays, forcing a pair of costly fumbles on blitzes. John Lynch sacked Drew Brees in the end zone and forced a fumble that set up a Broncos touchdown. Brees was knocked out of the game on that play. Lynch hit Philip Rivers in the second half and caused another fumble that was recovered by San Diego in the end zone for a safety. The Broncos kept the pressure on Rivers when he entered the game and forced him to miss some passes.
RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus -- LaDainian Tomlinson had a few nice runs in the first half. After Denver took a 16-7 lead early in the second half, San Diego got away from trying to run the ball. Denver did a good job all season stopping the run, although it helped that the Broncos usually went into the second half with the lead.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- The Broncos had an average game on special teams. P Todd Sauerbrun hit a few nice kicks, and Denver didn't have or allow any long returns. The only problem was Jason Elam missed a short field goal.
COACHING: A -- Mike Shanahan managed his team brilliantly all season, down to the final game. Most teams rest their starters in the final, meaningless regular-season game, but Shanahan had his team play hard. No healthy starters sat with injuries, and the only starters who were pulled at halftime were QB Jake Plummer and WR Rod Smith. The Broncos didn't suffer any key injuries and stayed sharp by playing a strong game before the playoffs begin.