SAN DIEGO — Mistakes by the Denver Broncos left them in a 24-0 hole at halftime in their Monday Night Football matchup against the Chargers in San Diego.
No big deal. They play two halves. The Broncos outscored the Chargers in the second half 35-0 to win the game 35-24. And for the first time in NFL history, a team down by 24 wins by double digits, according to ESPN.
“We’ve got the second half figured out, now we have to figure out the first half,” head coach John Fox said after the game.
After the first six games of the season, the Broncos have outscored their opponents 79-6 in the 4th quarter.
Back to the first half. A muffed punt led to a San Diego field goal. A fumble on the ensuing kickoff led to a San Diego touchdown. It was 10-0 in the first quarter.
Then the Broncos started moving the ball. A long pass from Peyton Manning to Eric Decker looked to be a sure touchdown. Except Decker fell down after catching the ball and running with no defender nearby.
Decker redeemed himself in the second half and was able to joke about it after the game was over. Take this Twitter post from Decker for example: “If yall didn’t see, they had trip wire out there tonight. I reported it to the NFL so an investigation is pending. #humblingmoment.”
A couple of plays later, Manning threw an interception that went for a touchdown. It was literally a 14-point swing. The Broncos didn’t do anything and then San Diego went on a 66-yard drive to finish the first half. 24-0 San Diego.
The 24-point deficit was the biggest halftime deficit Manning faced of his career.
The Broncos came out and went 85 yards in eight plays to start the 3rd quarter. Manning hit Demaryius Thomas for a 29-yard touchdown.
The Broncos kept the Chargers from scoring in the 3rd quarter and got into the 4th quarter of the game down by just three points. Decker caught a touchdown pass from Manning. Tony Carter ran a fumble back for a touchdown. Carter intercepted a Philip Rivers pass.
Then the unthinkable. Manning hit Brandon Stokley for his 13th straight completion of the second half. The Broncos took a 28-24 lead with 9:03 left in the game.
The comeback was completed when Chris Harris intercepted Philip Rivers and ran the ball back 46 yards to seal the deal for the Broncos just before the 2:00 minute warning. Denver 35 San Diego 24.
Manning threw for 309 yards with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Denver’s defense forced five turnovers in the second half. San Diego had six possessions in the second half, the only other possession resulted in a punt.
“I think we stepped it up, and I think we grew a bit,” coach John Fox said.
The Broncos moved to 3-3 on the season and a tie for first place in the AFC West Division.
Denver goes into a bye week. The Broncos next game is Oct. 28 against New Orleans at Invesco Field at Mile High.