Thoughts on the huge win over the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium (In no particular order):
- Despite Denver’s 4 wins in the previous 5 contests going into the Chargers game yesterday; I remained hesitant with getting too excited about a potential playoff run. I knew the game that really mattered had yet to be played. If the 2011 Broncos really wanted to make a push they had to win the remaining divisional games on their schedule, and they absolutely had to get the Chargers monkey off their back. In my mind yesterday was a must win game, and that’s exactly what this inspiring Broncos team did. The previous 2 times Denver had defeated the Chargers in 2008 and 2009 they went on to lose the rematch in embarrassing fashion. Not only did they turn the tables on the Chargers yesterday and beat them in the rematch, they effectively ended San Diego’s season and guaranteed that their coach (a guy named Norval!) will be shown the door at the end of the year. It simply doesn’t get much sweeter than that.
- The Chargers busted out all the stops to try to end their 5 game losing streak. They wore their powder blue uniforms, they honored Junior Seau at halftime (who provided one of the weirdest speeches I have heard in quite some time), and they somehow lucked out with ex-Charger Dan Fouts calling the game on television. None of it worked however, and Denver sent the Chargers to a devastating 6th straight loss.
- The Broncos have now won 4 straight games. That is hard to fathom considering how they looked at the start of the season. They have also won 3 straight inside the division, and those all came on the road. It is very encouraging to see them competing again inside the AFC West.
- It is becoming increasingly difficult to give Von Miller enough praise for the job he is doing on the defensive side of the ball. Here is his stat line from yesterday: 10 tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss, 1 pass defended and 1 quarterback hit. I also believe he had the play of the game when he tackled Mike Tolbert for a 4-yard loss in overtime that forced the San Diego field goal attempt to be tried from 53-yards out. That kick may have been good from 49 yards, but Nick Novak missed it from 53 and set the Broncos up with great field position for their winning drive. Miller now has 10.5 sacks which is good enough for 3rd best in the entire league! It is easy to forget when watching the games that this kid is a rookie. I am so happy that he plays for the Denver Broncos.
- Let’s keep giving the defense some love. They have now given up 13 points or less in the last 3 games and they rank 7th in the league with 30 total sacks. To put that into perspective, the defense registered only 23 sacks during the entire 2010 season. The turnaround has been truly remarkable and they deserve a ton of credit. Dennis Allen has done a great job with this group and they seem to be getting better each and every week. Champ Bailey completely shut down Vincent Jackson yesterday, Elvis Dumervil had 2 sacks, and Joe Mays chipped in with a tackle for loss. Philip Rivers completed only 53% of his passes and finished with a mere 188 yards. I know Rivers has been down this year statistically, but he is still considered one of the best in the game and the Orange Crush completely bottled him up.
- The Broncos have been doing a great job with the field position battle and this is mainly due to the fact that Britton Colquitt is playing at a Pro Bowl level. San Diego started 4 drives inside their own 20-yard line and Colquitt is 3rd in the league overall in net punting average.
- I thought Tim Tebow had a good game throwing the ball. He finished the contest with only 9 completions for 143 yards, but his accuracy was markedly better than in some of his past games. Some dropped balls hurt his stat line, and if you add in rushing yards he finished with more total yards than Philip Rivers.
- I wish we would have started Tebow earlier in the year. I can’t help but think he would have flipped the result in up to 3 of our early season losses.
- There was an impressive amount of Broncos fans in attendance. It was nice to see Broncos Country represent so well in enemy territory, and it was easy to see that despite their struggles in recent years, this franchise still has the best and most loyal fans in the league.
- Another huge play that doesn’t stand out in the box score was the Orlando Franklin recovery of a Daniel Fells fumble right before the half. The fumble came during a big pass completion that set the Broncos up deep in Chargers territory, and I could not believe that Franklin came up with it when seemingly every Charger on the field was around the ball. That play led to a beautiful 18-yard touchdown pass from Tebow to Eric Decker that got the Broncos going. As the Chargers trotted off the field for halftime to a chorus of boos, it felt like the Broncos had won the first half even though they were trailing on the scoreboard. And it was all made possible thanks to some good fortune and some hustle by Franklin.
- One common theme throughout this winning streak is that at some point in each game I thought we were in serious trouble, yet as the game wears on I start to realize that we just might win this damn thing! Just like in all the others, I started to believe we were going to win yesterday when the ball was in Tebow’s hands towards the end of the game. After the Chargers missed their 53-yard field goal attempt in overtime, it was clear that the worst we could do at that moment was a tie, and that is when the Tim Tebow/Willis McGahee machine really turned it on. The Broncos fans in attendance went absolutely ballistic after McGahee busted out his 24-yard run to set up the winning kick. The Chargers fans near us rushed out of the stadium disgusted and the celebration was on!
- I counted at least 2 perfectly thrown balls that were flat out dropped yesterday. In an offense where pass completions are at a premium, the receivers have to help Tebow out and catch those.
- The Broncos outgained the Chargers in total yardage 349 to 344. That is pretty impressive when you consider the success San Diego has had against Denver in recent years. The biggest discrepancy in the box score is kick return yardage. Eddie Royal, Cassius Vaughn, and Eric Decker combined for 166 total return yards on kick-off and punt returns while the Chargers tallied only 37 return yards themselves. Those yards made a huge difference in field position and helped kick start our offense several times.
- Before this winning streak it seemed like it was going to be a coin flip whether the Broncos were going to play a good game and compete. Now I know that every single Sunday this team is going to give their maximum effort on each and every play. That is my favorite part of the 2011 Broncos. They believe in each other, they believe they are going to win, and they give everything they have in order to make that happen. It isn’t hard to root for a team like this.
- The Broncos now have a legitimate shot at winning the AFC West. The Chargers and Chiefs are essentially out of the race, so it is going to come down to the Broncos and the Raiders. Denver currently has the best record in the AFC West in terms of division and conference games, so they are in good shape to win a tiebreaker at the end of the season. My guess is that the Broncos can win the division with a 9-7 record so they are looking for 3 more wins the rest of the way. The countdown is on!
- The Broncos victory over the Chargers is just their 3rd in the last 12 meetings. Hopefully it is a sign of more to come. I could really get used to saying this: Enjoy this one Broncos fans!
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Topics: Cassius Vaughn, Champ Bailey, Dan Fouts, Dennis Allen, Denver Broncos, Eddie Royal, Elvis Dumervil, Eric Decker, Joe Mays, Junior Seau, Norval Turner, Orange Crush, Orlando Franklin, Philip Rivers, Qualcomm Stadium, Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, Tim Tebow, Vincent Jackson, Von Miller, Willis Mcgahee