Qualcomm Stadium was not a fun place to be for Denver Broncos fans during halftime last night. Despite the fact there were tens of thousands of Denver fans to commiserate with, there was no escaping the ugliness of a 24-0 deficit to the San Diego Chargers after two quarters of play. Bronco backers were looking for any sign of life as the third quarter began and they didn’t have to wait long. Denver sprang to life with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas, and they dominated in all phases down the stretch to complete a stunning and improbable comeback. By the time the dust settled, the Broncos had won 35-24 and the AFC West race had been turned on its head.
In the sea of orange behind the Broncos bench, lifelong Denver fanatic Brent Miller was one of those fans desperate for the Broncos to turn it around. During the Thomas touchdown catch, Miller had his head lowered and missed the play. In order to keep the Denver momentum going he kept his head down and also didn’t see the Tony Carter fumble return for a touchdown a few minutes later. As superstitious NFL fans usually do he wasn’t going to change anything as long as the Broncos were playing well. It’s only crazy if it doesn’t work. Even though he was 14 rows from the field during the miraculous Manning comeback, Miller didn’t see any of it. Not a single play. When asked if he regretted missing the biggest comeback in Monday Night Football history, Miller responded with a laugh. The Broncos had won and that was all that mattered.
Here are some thoughts on the Denver Broncos historic comeback over the San Diego Chargers:
- Credit is due to the Denver defense. They gave up only a single touchdown drive that went longer than 19 yards, and 17 San Diego points were a direct result of turnovers by the offense. They also improved their third down efficiency and held the Chargers to a 6 for 15 conversion rate.
- The Broncos forced six turnovers and made several game changing plays in the second half. The defense has had trouble making impact plays in big spots, but they came through on Monday Night Football. Chris Harris had a pick six to put the game away late and Tony Carter returned a fumble for a score late in the third quarter. Denver also recorded four sacks. Two were credited to Elvis Dumervil, and Derek Wolfe and Von Miller recorded one each.
- Peyton Manning was completely unstoppable in the second half and is now in the running for league MVP. It’s amazing how things can change in two quarters of football. Manning compiled a quarterback rating of 129.0 and finished with 309 yards and 3 touchdowns. He only threw a single incompletion in the second half and showed incomparable poise in the pocket. Manning is one of the best players in the NFL, period.
- Eric Decker was responsible for a fluke 14 point swing in the second quarter. He fell on his face without being touched while running for a certain touchdown, and Manning threw an 80-yard pick six to Quentin Jammer a few plays later. If the Broncos would have lost Decker would have shouldered a ton of the blame. Even though the team is flying high after this victory the offense must get their first half woes figured out. They won’t be able to spot good teams 24 points and win in the future.
- Philip Rivers played his worst game as a pro. He looked horrendous after halftime and was responsible for a shocking 6 turnovers! He also finished with a paltry 54.2 quarterback rating. The Denver comeback was sweet, but seeing Rivers implode in primetime was a dream come true.
- Winning a divisional game on the road is one thing, but to do it on Monday Night Football is huge. On top of that the Broncos get to carry the momentum from the incredible comeback into the bye week. Meanwhile, the San Diego Chargers have to swallow a heartbreaking loss and must stew on it for two weeks. At 3-3, Denver sits in first place in the AFC West and is in perfect position going forward.
- Next up: The New Orleans Saints come to Denver in two weeks. The Broncos will be riding a wave of momentum and Mile High Stadium should be rocking. Go Broncos.