The Denver Broncos exorcised some demons on Sunday afternoon. They completed their first sweep of the San Diego Chargers since 2005 and officially ended one of the most successful runs in Chargers franchise history. San Diego has become irrelevant in 2012 and will almost certainly usher in a new general manager and head coach in the offseason. The fact it was the Broncos who finally broke the back of the Norval Turner and A.J. Smith era seems like poetic justice.
The Broncos, who have historically dominated the Chargers, have once again taken their rightful place atop the division. There is a new Sheriff in the AFC West, and his name is Peyton Manning.
Here are some thoughts on the Denver Broncos 30-23 victory over the San Diego Chargers:
- Denver has now won 5 straight games and is the hottest team in the NFL. They also set a franchise record with their fifth straight game with at least 30 points. At this pace the franchise records are going to keep falling in 2012.
- Every team in the AFC West lost yesterday, except of course for your Broncos. Peyton Manning continued his dominance within the division and pushed the Broncos AFC West record to 3-0. Denver’s second straight division championship is all but locked up and they are now setting their sights on playoff positioning.
- Manning threw for 270 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. He didn’t have his best game of the year but he still led the team to victory and moved to second place on the all-time quarterback wins list (tied with John Elway at 148). He also sits in second place on the NFL’s all-time passing touchdown list with 423. Manning will have plenty of time in Denver to pad his lifetime stats even more over the next few seasons.
- The Denver defense has turned into an absolute machine. They had 4 sacks and 4 hits on Philip Rivers and they held San Diego to a 3 for 16 third-down conversion rate. Wesley Woodyard and Jim Leonhard both intercepted Philip Rivers and the defense allowed a paltry 53-yards rushing. Their solid effort was huge in a game where the offense had a tough time getting going.
- Von Miller accounted for 3 quarterback sacks and now leads the league with 13. He impacts every single play and must be constantly accounted for by the opposing offensive coordinator. Manning is the face of the franchise, but Miller may be the best player on the field.
- Willis McGahee had a great start to the game and looked like he would put up monster numbers before he was forced to leave with a knee injury. He finished with 73 total yards prior to leaving the game and the offense wasn’t the same once he left. Lance Ball and Ronnie Hillman were adequate in his place but this offense needs McGahee in the game. He gets the tough yards between the tackles and provides the threat of an effective run during a play-action pass. McGahee is scheduled for an MRI on his knee on Monday but the Broncos believe the injury isn’t serious. Denver fans certainly hope so!
- Speaking of McGahee’s injury, would it be possible to go one week without someone having to get an MRI? The Broncos held their breath just last week when Elvis Dumervil sprained his left shoulder and had to get checked out. Luckily his injury was relatively minor and he didn’t miss any time. Not only did he play against the Chargers, he played well. He notched a quarterback sack, 6 tackles and 1 tackle-for-loss.
- Despite the fact Denver won the contest they played a sloppy game and should have won it in a landslide. The fumbles remain a problem and they gave up a safety early in the third quarter that got the Chargers going in the second half. Those mistakes can’t be made when the Broncos play tough competition in the playoffs.
- San Diego reeked of desperation with their onside kick to start the second half. The surprise onside worked, but Denver immediately held them to a three-and-out and the damage was contained. The fact the Chargers were that desperate in a midseason divisional game showed just how far they’ve fallen over the last few years. Denver has now won three straight games in the series and it would be a huge surprise of San Diego didn’t make wholesale changes in the offseason.
- Next up is a visit to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the pathetic Kansas City Chiefs. Peyton Manning will look to continue his domination of the AFC West and push Denver’s winning streak to 6 games. Go Broncos!