The San Diego Chargers welcomed the Denver Broncos to town for an AFC West battle. The Chargers defense came to play and were near perfect against Peyton Manning. The Chargers offense did not perform because of key mistakes during the game which broke momentum and stalled the Chargers in place.
The Chargers were able to hold Denver to just a field goal in the first quarter. The second quarter started and Denver got another field goal to push the lead 6-0. The Chargers moved on their next drive but Nick Novak missed a field goal. The next Broncos drive saw a defensive stand at the 1 yard line to hold Denver to another field goal at 9-0. San Diego is able to drive down at the end to make it 9-3 at halftime.
In the second half, the Chargers on their second drive stall in the red zone and Nick Novak misses another field goal. Peyton Manning used the field position to move down the field for a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas to push their lead to 16-3.
Rivers started the 4th quarter with a touchdown pass to Antonio Gates which cut the lead to 16-10. The Chargers defense came up again to hold the Broncos to a field goal with a 19-10 score. Chargers get the ball with 4:53 left and Rivers tried to get too much too quick which led to an interception by Aqib Talib.
The Broncos take that turnover and make it another field goal to go up 22-10. The Chargers drive down to the Broncos 7 yard line and Rivers tries to thread the needle to Gates but Rahim Moore jumps in front for a game clinching interception. The Broncos win the AFC West with a 22-10 victory.
The Chargers had this game but they squandered their opportunities. Two missed field goals and two late interceptions are the reason they lost. If Nick Novak makes those field goals then it’s 16-16 once Rivers throws the touchdowns to Gates. If the Chargers hold Denver to another field goal then the interception to Talib does not happen because the Chargers are driving slower and smarter. They might win the game because momentum is for the taking.
The interceptions did happen and they were foolish mistakes. There was no run game without Ryan Matthews and it put Phillip Rivers on edge. He tried to do too much because he feels it is all on him and it affects his decision making. These mistakes cannot happen in the playoffs if they make them.
The Chargers final 2 games are on the road against the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Chargers need two wins and one Baltimore loss at Houston or vs. Cleveland. Another scenario is two Pittsburgh losses vs. Kansas City and vs. Cincinnati or two Cincinnati losses vs. Denver and at Pittsburgh. I see the Chargers winning out, Baltimore winning out, Pittsburgh winning out, and the Bengals losing both games. If that happens we will see San Diego go to Indianapolis and Baltimore will go to Pittsburgh.
The Chargers vs. 49ers will be Saturday night on CBS at 5:25 p.m. Pacific.