There’s A Tale of Two Cities and then there’s a Tale of Two Halves. Charles Dickens had nothing on the script the Denver Broncos wrote as they beat the San Diego Chargers 35-24 on Monday Night Football.
Peyton Manning recorded the biggest comeback of his career. After being down 24-0 at halftime, John Fox must have turned into the Incredible Hulk at halftime because the Broncos opened up the second half with a 29-yard touchdown reception from Manning to Demaryius Thomas. That was just the beginning of a 35-0 second half run by the Broncos.
The first half was a pin the tail on the donkey type of game. Broncos Country needed a blindfold. New return man Trindon Holliday gave up a fumble on his second return of the game which lead to three Charger points. Then rookie Omar Bolden fumbled on a kickoff even before the first half of the first quarter was over. The Chargers took advantage and Philip Rivers passed to Antonio Gates to take an early 10-0 lead.
It went from bad to worse for the Broncos in the first half. Manning threw a beautiful 55-yard pass to Eric Decker, but Decker tripped over his own feet and squandered his own attempt at putting six point on the board. The Broncos were in scoring territory after the catch, but Manning threw a pick-6 into the hands of Quentin Jammer three plays later on a miscommunication with Matt Willis.
Another quick three-and-out by the Broncos led to a four minute drive by the Chargers that was capped off by Antonio Gates’ second touchdown of the game.
That was the last real reason to cheer if you were a Chargers fan, however.
The Broncos’ second half was highlighted by the fact that starting cornerback Tracy Porter was home sick. His replacement, Chris Harris, came up with two interceptions, one being a pick-6 to put the game away.
Tony Carter also saw more time because of Porter’s absence. He had the game of his career after recovering a fumble and taking it 65 yards to the house to make it 24-14.
Then, Decker redeemed himself after taking a nice catch off the screen bubble 7 yards for the touchdown to make it a three point game.
Carter wasn’t done after his fumble recovery for a touchdown. He wanted to pick on Rivers. He intercepted Rivers and returned it 15 yards to set up Manning’s 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley. On the play, Stokley stuck his tongue in the air as he leaped out of the stadium to make the grab and then keep both feet in bounds.
Manning led the greatest comeback in the Monday Night Football history, and his game-winning scoring drive ties Dan Marino for the most all-time (47). He finished the night going 24-for-30 for 309 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception.
By the fourth quarter, Rivers looked like he was struck by lightning. He went 25-for-41 for 242 yards with 2 touchdowns, but he also threw 4 interceptions, had a fumble, and was sacked 4 times by Elvis Dumervil (2), Von Miller, and Derek Wolfe.
The Broncos head into their bye week 3-3 and in first place in the AFC West. With the second toughest schedule in the league, .500 isn’t a bad place for the team to be, particularly with a lighter schedule ahead.
Monday night’s game proved that the biggest threat to the Broncos are the Broncos themselves.
As Dickens would say, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Let’s rejoice in the former, Broncos Country!