Broncos take over 1st place in division with 35-21 win against San Diego
DENVER — The first half was a surprising defensive battle as the Denver Broncos, fresh off their quarterback’s record-setting performance, took on the San Diego Chargers on Thursday Night Football.
First place in the AFC Western Division was on the line as the Chargers, 5-2 came into town to play the 5-1 Broncos.
The two teams played scoreless football in the first quarter.
And then Peyton Manning set a new NFL record when he hit Emmanuel Sanders for a short touchdown pass to start the second quarter. It was Manning’s 511th touchdown pass of his career. It was his 46th consecutive game with at least one touchdown pass.
San Diego went on a long drive in the 2nd quarter. It lasted more than seven minutes. It was highlighted by a 30-yard pass play on 3rd down and 20 that took the ball inside Denver’s 5-yard line.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers then hit Keenan Allen for a touchdown pass to make the score 7-7. Rivers was an impressive 15 of 18 for 118 yards passing with 3:00 left in the first half. The Chargers only had five yards rushing to that point in the game.
The Broncos took the ball at their own 26-yard line and Peyton Manning and the offense made it look easy. They marched down the field and Peyton Manning broke the NFL record for touchdown passes thrown during a career with 32 seconds left. Emmanuel Sanders caught his second touchdown pass of the game to put a nice cap on an 8-play, 74-yard drive that took 2:35.
Manning threw for an even more impressive than Philip Rivers 174 yards and Denver had a 14-7 halftime lead.
The Broncos defense made a play just 90 seconds into the 3rd quarter. Chris Harris intercepted a Philip Rivers pass. It was Harris’ 2nd INT of the season. The Broncos took the ball on their own 49 and made the Chargers pay. Manning to Sanders capped the 51-yard drive for a touchdown. Yes, Peyton set an NFL record for touchdown passes in a career with that pass. And Sanders had the hat trick with 10:53 left in the third. 21-7 Broncos.
By the time the 3rd quarter reached the halfway mark, Chargers running back Branden Oliver was wishing the Broncos defense wasn’t quite as touch and fast as they were playing. He had eight rushes for 4 yards. He had four catches for minus 7 yards. He had 12 touches of the football for a negative 3 yards to that point in the game.
It was time for the Broncos to take charge.
That drive was 5 plays, 61 yards in 1:41 with the undrafted rookie Thompson jamming it in from the 2.
San Diego came back with a touchdown of their own. Rivers to Antonio Gates on a 4th down and goal play and it was 28-14 Denver with 2:39 left in the 3rd quarter.
Denver responded with another touchdown of its own. This time it was a 1-yard run by Juwan Thompson for his 2nd TD of the game after a 65-yard drive. Broncos 35-14 early in the 4th quarter.
The teams decided it was time to trade touchdowns. San Diego scored and it was 35-21.
A Rahim Moore interception deep in Denver territory iced the game for the Broncos with 4:53 left. Denver with a convincing win to go to 6-1 and sole possession of first place in the AFC West with the 35-21 victory.
Manning went 25-35 for 286 yards and 3 touchdown passes. Running back Ronnie Hillman had 20 rushes for 109 yards. Sanders caught 9 passes for 120 yards and 3 touchdowns.