Alive and Kicking!

The Chargers never doubted their status as an elite team, even after a rocky 1-3 start. With Sunday's 41-3 win, the Chargers can now return to San Diego with their heads held a mile high.

What Worked

--Maybe the Chargers needed a change in altitude, not attitude. Norv Turner was criticized last week for giving LaDainian Tomlinson only six second-half carries. Tomlinson got just seven second-half carries in Denver and nobody is complaining. L.T.'s biggest contributions came in the passing game, where he caught three passes for 73 yards.

--One of the Chargers' biggest personalities, Carlos Polk, left his character all over Brian Clark when stripped the kick returner of the ball early in the first quarter. Brandon Siler was there to pick it up and run it in for San Diego's second touchdown in an 11-second span.

--Philip Rivers used his arm to carve up the Broncos -- finishing with a 151.4 passer rating -- but used his legs to put the Chargers out in front. Rivers ran for the first touchdown of his career on a 2-yard bootleg on the Chargers' opening drive. Rivers played well enough to get benched, and not in the Rex Grossman-type way. Billy Volek played the final two drives with his team up by 38, although he did not attempt a pass.

--Antonio Gates entered the game tied for second in the league with 33 receptions. However, he had historically struggled in Denver, having never caught a touchdown or topped the 100-yard mark there. Gates got both of those donkeys off his back by going for 113 yards and a score. Gates finished with seven receptions, three of which resulted in third-down conversions.

--Vincent Jackson redeemed himself after dropping a potential touchdown pass in week three. Jackson had receptions of 24, 45 and 15 yards, with the final grab coming in the back corner of the end zone. Jackson, who went to school in Northern Colorado, loves playing in his home state and showed it on Sunday.

--The dominant secondary from the first half of week four rode shotgun the entire game in Denver. Bill Bradley's defensive backs caused two turnovers -- a fumble and an interception -- and nearly had another until it was overturned on review. When the Broncos receivers caught the ball, they knew they were going to get hit.

--The No. 1 problem for the Chargers' defense, missed tackles, was solved in week five. The Chargers big front seven overwhelmed the Broncos' offensive line and forced Jay Cutler to get rid of the ball before he was ready.

--L.T.'s back-up put up big numbers. Michael Turner burned the Broncos for a 74-yard score and led the team with a career-high 147 yards rushing.

--Clinton Hart's emotions ran the whole gamut on Sunday. He came up with huge plays, such as his open-field tackle on rookie Selvin Young that prevented a third-down conversion and forced the Broncos to settle for a field goal. He also had his bad plays, such as a pass interference penalty on tight end Tony Scheffler. Finally, there were the good plays that ended badly, such as a fumble recovery that was negated by a Broncos challenge.

--Stephen Cooper got the first sack of the game, which drew boos from the dwindling home crowd. Cooper celerbrated by hitting a mock home run, leaving the fans wishing they were at a Colorado Rockies game instead.

--Drayton Florence did not make his presence felt until late in the game but his play kept points off the board. Florence swatted away a near touchdown to Marshall. Of course, the Chargers' 38-point lead sucked most of the drama from the play.

What Didn't

--The pass defense still looked susceptible to quick throws and skinny slants. Cutler was able to complete 64 percent of his passes despite being in obvious passing situations for most of the game.

--After recovering a fumble forced by McCree, the Chargers marched on an impressive 13-play drive. However, they had to settle for a 26-yard field goal by Nate Kaeding. It is difficult to criticize one stalled drive but there is not a lot to choose from in such a well executed game.

What's Next?

--San Diego will face the first-place Oakland Raiders at home next Sunday. The Raiders were on bye in week five and are up by half a game.

--The Chargers refused to give Mike Shanahan his 20th win over their team and sent their Rocky Mountains rivals into the bye week to think about their mistakes. The entire AFC West is now mired in mediocrity but the Chargers are just happy to be in the thick of it.

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